Ben Cox Funeral
Hundreds gathered Saturday, June 18, to say goodbye to a civil rights activist and icon, Reverend Ben Elton Cox. “Very concerned about everyone and their welfare. Everyone came before him,” said Rotha Patterson, a longtime friend of Reverend Ben Cox. Cox, one of the original Freedom Riders died Sunday, June 12 at the age of 79. As a Freedom Rider, Cox and 12 others rode interstate buses and participated in nonviolent sit-ins in restaurants across the South after laws had been passed making segregation in restaurants, waiting rooms and bus terminals, unlawful. The South was slow in conforming to the new laws. “We were told that it was foolish, that we would be killed and so that’s why we wrote our wills and mailed then to our parents and my parents thought I was crazy,” said Cox during an interview earlier this year. According to accounts, the Freedom Riders endured beatings, even a firebomb was thrown inside their bus. “Watching what he went through you can learn a lot. It shows you that you have to have patients,” said Commissioner Katie Brantley of Madison County. “There’s no telling how things would have been for me and other people if they hadn’t taken a stand for injustice,” said Sylvester Simpson, a Dyersburg man who rode his bicycle eight hours to Cox’s funeral.