James Freeman speaks on civil rights


By Britny Doane, Reporter

International Studies and Programs presented James Freeman (director of multicultural affairs at UNO) for Conversational and Culture Hour on Jan. 24. CC hour is a weekly program that gives international students the opportunity to practice English and interact with Americans.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mr. Freeman spoke about the Civil Rights movement and his personal experiences. In the MBSC Dodge room, there was a good crowd attending, with people of every different race, age and gender.
Freeman’s experiences were captivating. Freeman was very happy to see so many diverse people at UNO.
“Having diversity teaches everyone so much about each other,” Freeman said.
Freeman was born in Athens, Georgia during the time of the Civil Rights movement. Listening to his story and experiences really opened the eyes of the audience.
“Education has always been really important in my life,” Freeman said. “Back then, it was really hard for colored people to get a fair education. Schools were segregated, so when the kids in the white schools got done with their new textbooks, we would get the old ones. I had never seen a new textbook all through kindergarten to high school. We only went to school for part of the year, and for the other part, had to pick cotton in the fields. I always wanted to be a teacher. Teaching is most rewarding because we teach the doctors, the lawyers, the police men…all of them!”
Freeman got involved in the Civil Rights movement when he went to college in Tuskegee.
“Young people are always willing,” he said. “Young people are the change in this world. They have no fear of losing anything. Students did the marching and the silent protesting.”
Freeman’s experiences changed his life. “I was captain in a movement,” he said. “My duties and responsibilities were to talk to officials and make sure every student had money in their pocket. Back then people would be thrown in jail for soliciting if they did not have money in their back pocket.”
Freeman thought it was very important to be the change society needed at the time. He spoke on that day to make sure everyone left knowing that if they want change, they have to be the change.