Brighton man recognized for transporting Freedom Riders - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Brighton man recognized for transporting Freedom Riders

As Black History month comes to an end, a Brighton, TN, man is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his role in the civil rights movement. As Black History month comes to an end, a Brighton, TN, man is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his role in the civil rights movement.

(WMC-TV) - As Black History month comes to an end, a Brighton, TN, man is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his role in the civil rights movement.

In the spring of 1961, the civil rights movement was in full swing.

Jim Ruth was 21 at the time and had just taken a job as a Trailways bus driver in Nashville.

Little did he know he was about to make history.

"Professor got on the bus and said ‘Mr. Ruth you don't know what you're doing.' I said, ‘Well, one thing about it, if they die, I'm gonna die with them, doing what I like and that's driving,'" Ruth says.

Ruth was one of the very first Trailways drivers to transport a bus load of African - Americans and whites together.

He loaded a bus of students from Tennessee State University and drove them from Nashville to Jackson, MS.

Known as the Freedom Riders, these civil rights activists boarded buses all over the south, thus beginning desegregation.

"My daddy ran a grocery store and we were to treat everybody equal. It didn't make any difference who it was, they were all human beings," Ruth continues.

Ruth says he never gave this history making trip a second thought.

He says he was just doing his job.

He left Trailways in 1963.

Ruth was recently honored by the NAACP for the vital part he played in the Civil Rights Movement.

"Back then, people thought it was supposed be everybody had to sit in the back of the bus because they were African-Americans, but not in my book they didn't," he continues.

Now 73-years-old, Ruth recently donated most of his personal memorabilia from his bus driving years to the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

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