March, 2006 - Equality Ride - Lynchburg, VA
The Soulforce Equality Ride began their journey to change the hearts and minds of America in 2005.
The 33 Soulforce Equality Riders of 2006 traveled from coast to coast on a seven-week bus tour to open communication with colleges that ban the enrollment of LGBT students.
Their message is simple: Learn from history, end religion-based discrimination. Someone's Sister was honored to be asked to join them on the first stop of their long journey. The night before the ride, we met them at the First Christian Church in Lynchburg, Va for a candlelight vigil.
Jack Reitan , left, is one of co-directors of the ride.
Prior to their journey, the Equality Riders receive
words from Rev. Phillip Lawson, a long time fighter for human rights.
The next morning we met to discuss the days events.
MTV, LOGO, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and other international press was
eager to record the
Jocelyn Vena, from MTV did an article/Think segment on the Equality Riders, as a part their
Alternative Spring Break series.
Many traveled to Lynchburg to show their support. One such supporter and long time friend was
Dottie Berry from Two Women and a Poodle
This is the bus that will carry 33 Soulforce Riders for 7 weeks to 11 states and 19 schools.
Our first stop was Liberty University.
When the Equality Riders requested an open discussion with Liberty University about their current policy to discriminate against LGBT students...
Jerry Falwell issued a statement threatening to arrest anyone from The Equality Ride if they set
foot on the campus.
Outside the university the excitement of the moment was coupled with anticipation over the possible arrest.
Roby Sapp, the other half of Two Women and a Poodle, was kind enough to take our pictures while we were singing. Little did we know she owns her own photography business, IMPACT images. To her left is their poodle, Rylee.
We sang proudly as we stood up together against discrimination with 33 strangers who were fast becoming our friends.
Then the moment of truth - would they arrest the
Equality Riders as they entered the campus?
The Equality Riders had something to say. Jack begin to read their collective statement to Liberty University.
He was the first to be arrested
for trespassing at Liberty University.
Others formed a line behind Jack
to continue the statement he could no longer finish.
As each Equality Rider was taken into custody, the next one would begin where the other left off. Their voices would be heard.
At the end of that day, over 20 Equality Riders had been taken into custody, all because they simply wanted an open dialogue.
Against the instructions of Jerry Falwell and Liberty University, a few of the students did cross the line to speak with the Equality Riders. Dialogue had begun.
During that day, press was everywhere as three separate documentaries of the event were filmed.
This press photo is from the MTV photo gallery.