Dear Mr. Ruth,
I enjoyed reading your story and would like to say a big “THANK YOU” for the important role you played in 1963. You showed compassion, understanding and courage when so many individuals just sat back and refused to work toward the much-needed equity in our country.
I lived in East Nashville in the early ’60s and saw firsthand the unfair manner in which African-Americans were treated. I remember riding the local bus from my neighborhood to downtown Nashville. One Saturday afternoon, I boarded the bus with a friend, paid my fare and sat down near the front. An elderly black lady came on board carrying many packages, paid her fare and moved to the back of the bus. As the bus moved along toward my home, I glanced back to see that this lady was standing even though there were many empty seats. I couldn’t understand and later asked my friend why. My friend explained that the lady could only sit in a certain section because of her skin color. I was only 11 years old, but I knew that was very unfair.
I am so appreciative of you and your progressive actions.
Judy Beasley Whitehill
Thank you for your interesting story about Jim Ruth, the Trailways driver who transported a busload of Freedom Riders during the early 1960s — we are guessing his trip was made in 1961. It was forwarded to us by a reader who lives near Nashville.
We (a twice-weekly community newspaper published in Batesville, Miss.) are further interested in learning more about his stop for coffee here and would like to contact him if you have that information and Mr. Ruth would not mind your sharing it with us.
I don’t recall having read a story about the Freedom Riders’ movement that looked at it from a driver’s perspective. I enjoyed learning about Mr. Ruth and his courage that he so little realized at the time.
The Tennessee Magazine,
Who are the young women in this picture of beauty queens from 1965?
Editor’s note: The Miss Tennessee Rural Electric winners of 1965 are identified from left as Rose Marie Raines, first alternate, who represented Gibson County Electric Membership Corporation; Sherry Dawn Odum, the winner, who participated as Miss Middle Tennessee EMC; and Jacqueline Trivette, second alternate, who represented Mountain Electric Cooperative.
I was amazed when R.H. Pulliam’s name and photo appeared on the cover of the November 2015 issue of The Tennessee Magazine. Thanks for doing a marvelous story on R.H. I have known him since I was a teenager in the 1960s working at Chambers Store in Rossville. Everyone knew the Pulliam family, especially R.H., since he was a mail carrier. But, frankly, all I ever heard about his World War II military service was that he’d been shot down over Europe and spent time as a prisoner of war. He was invited to and participated in the unveiling and dedication of the veterans monument at the Somerville courthouse in 1984. I was there when he helped pull the parachute off of it.
You did a grand job bringing R.H.’s full story to light. What trials he endured. He and all our veterans, young and old, deserve our thanks and outspoken appreciation. I can only echo your closing phrase from the article: “Thank you for your service, R.H.!”
Keep the letters coming!
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