Bay Area Freedom Train to make last trip

Chris Nguyen Image
ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Bay Area Freedom Train to make last trip
A Bay Area decades-old tribute to the civil rights era will end Monday when the Freedom Train makes its last trip.

A Bay Area tradition honoring Martin Luther King Junior is about to end. This holiday weekend is the last time the Freedom Train will be running to pay tribute to the late civil rights leader.

Launched more than 30 years ago by the late Coretta Scott King, the Caltrain chartered Freedom Train is the last remaining official MLK commemorative train service in the United States.

San Jose's African American Heritage House Curator Ocie Tinsley was on the first train ride back in 1984 and remembers it well. "People of all different walks of life with this energy," he said.

The train one of more than two dozen across the country, at one point, honors the 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama led by King. That proved instrumental in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Clay Carson, PhD, is the founding director of the King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. "Give a thought to what is the status of human rights and civil rights and social justice issues today because I think what King was talking about 50 years ago is still relevant today," he said.

The upcoming trip from San Jose to San Francisco will be the last one put on by the MLK Junior Association of Santa Clara Valley.

Organizers have cited a lack of community interest and a decline in ridership over the past 10 years as the main reasons behind the decision.

Despite the call, riders like Tinsley say the train has served its purpose and he'll be there on Monday for one final ride. "A person that doesn't come out to celebrate Martin Luther King, probably doesn't know about him. They're not aware of what he's done to make this country the great country that it is today."

As of Friday afternoon, all 1,400 tickets for the Freedom Train have sold out, but there are still plenty of other events that you can take part in throughout the weekend to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.