Freedom train celebrates King legacy

January 21, 2008 5:38:20 PM PST
The Freedom Train made its annual journey up the Peninsula for a huge march and rally in San Francisco. About 1,600 passengers were onboard. Riders young and old said they took the train to feel united.

In San Jose, the Mover of Mountains award breakfast honored and remembered Dr. King.

Martin Luther King Jr. may be a national hero, but for Dr. Melba Patillo Beals, he's been a personal savior. Fifty years ago Beals was one of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to cross the lines of segregation and face the wrath of white classmates.

"The guy who was also there during my time at Central High School -- he took my chair and he smeared it with peanut butter and then he put small flakes of glass in it. Peanut butter was the same color as the seat so of course, what did I do? It took my mother two weeks with a magnifying glass and a set of tweezers to dig that out of my bottom," said Dr. Melba Patillo Beals, "Little Rock Nine" member.

In San Jose, Beals honored Dr. King, for standing up for freedom, calling him a man of action.

"Dr. King was a man who prepared himself for action. He was well educated, well read. He honored Gandhi. He wasn't someone who plucked from the air his thoughts of non-violence," said Dr. Melba Patillo Beals.

Dr. King's thoughts, his message -- inspire still, almost 40 years after his assassination.

"He wanted us to keep our eyes on the prize and the prize was that all of us could begin to practice being free at last, free at last, great good god almighty, we're free at last," said Rev. Cecil Williams, community leader.

For the hundreds aboard the 23rd annual Freedom Train to San Francisco -- it's about togetherness.

"You're with all these people and you're all kind of different, but yet you're all the same," said Eva Duffy, Freedom Train passenger.

And Dr. King's dream of equality:

"It means freedom, it means self respect, it means treating others the way you want to be treated," said David Johnson, Freedom Train passenger.

The freedom train is so popular it sold out. Many of the passengers had to take the next train to get into the city.

Click here for a list of Bay Area Martin Luther King Jr. events and closures.