The Freedom Train’s Final Run

  • American Freedom Train

Across 30 years, the San Francisco Bay Area saw its Freedom Train run each year in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s enduring legacy. Today, however, marked the final run, with the number of passengers swelling five-fold over what the dwindling numbers showed last year.

The interest in the train’s journeys faded in part because of competing events over the years marking MLK’s birthday. The Bay Area had been the sole Freedom Train route remaining. No more.

Local to that area, the Mercury News reported on it with photos and videos included in their article, where they said:

Packed joyously in 10 train cars, the multicultural mix of pilgrims sang civil rights hymns, read MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and shared personal stories. Michelle Geary’s mother, Arlee Geary, made sure their family was onboard.

“My mom called me and said, ‘I grew up on Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, and if this is going to be the last train I want all of us to ride it,” said Michelle Geary of San Jose, whose son and husband were also part of the final ride.

It was Coretta Scott King who started the Freedom Train celebration in dozens of cities across the nation.

One notable quote in the article stood out:

“All those people protesting these days, they ought to be demanding the continuation of the Freedom Train because losing this is a really a shame,” said Charles Herndon, who was the conductor on the first 25 years of MLK trains before retiring. He rode the farewell train as a passenger Monday.




News to Share brief source: “MLK Day: Final Freedom Train in Bay Area ends 30 years of celebrating King’s legacy” by David E Early for the San Jose Mercury News
Image (license CC BY 2.0) “‘American Freedom Train’ — B & O Railroad Museum Baltimore (MD) July 2013” by Ron Cogswell via Flickr