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Motorcyclist group holds Freedom Ride to benefit planned U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg
Motorcycles and cars caravan from First Baptist Church of Love to the site of the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Celebrate Virginia.
MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 9/2/2007
Former second-grade teacher Dee Dee Smith doesn't think today's kids know a lot about slavery.
"I guess it's something people just don't talk about," she said.
If they did, kids would appreciate what they have: their freedom, their homes, their education and their opportunities to one day hold good jobs, she said.
So she can't wait for the U.S. National Slavery Museum to open in Fredericksburg.
That's one reason she showed up for yesterday's Freedom Ride through Fredericksburg. The caravan, sponsored by First Baptist Church of Love and The Crusaders Motorcycle Club of Virginia, raised about $1,800 for the slavery museum.
But Smith also came out simply because it was a beautiful day for a ride from the church to the museum site in Celebrate Virginia.
That was what the Rev. Hashmel Turner counted on when he organized the event.
Turner, a Fredericksburg city councilman and pastor of First Baptist Church of Love, prayed for inspiration for a fundraiser for the museum, proposed to open in 2009 or 2010.
He knew bikers would jump at the chance for a ride on Labor Day weekend. And he wanted to give them an excuse.
King Stewart came from Marshall in northern Fauquier County for the event, and said he'd show up no matter what the cause. As Turner thought, he was just looking for a chance to hop on his bike and cruise.
"You can just get caught up in the hustle and bustle," Stewart said. "When you're on a motorcycle, it's just like it vanishes, your trials and tribulations. It's instant peace of mind."
For others, such as 71-year-old rider Bill Brooks, the cause was especially important. He attends Mount Zion Baptist Church, a Spotsylvania County church that was started 148 years ago for slaves.
"A lot of people are still in darkness, and the museum will enlighten people about what slaves went through back then," Brooks said.
Charles Boone Jr., a biker from the Mayfield neighborhood in Fredericksburg, wanted to raise money for the museum because it will bring needed attention to black history. While Fredericksburg is steeped in history, it often ignores the slaves, he said.
The history will make some uncomfortable and even angry, Boone said, but it's important to tell the full story.