Boris Johnson lectures the London Occupiers the same way the NYTimes lectured the Freedom Riders: Ok, you made your point, now go away.

London Mayor Boris Johnson on the London Occupiers in the New York Times this morning:

“An excellent point has been made” by the protesters, [Johnson] said, “but having made their point, it’s time for them to move on.“

A New York Times editorial on the Freedom Riders on May 28, 1961:

The Freedom Riders have made their point. Now is the time for restraint, relaxation of tension and a cessation of their courageous, legal, peaceful but nonetheless provocative action in the South.

I doubt that Johnson will be any more successful than the Times was in persauding the demonstrators to stand down. The 1961 editorial came just as the Riders were launching the decisive phase of their campaign, filling the jails in Jackson, Mississippi, with protestors from around the country. Which phase resulted, the Times editors later conceded, in forcing the Kennedy Administraiton to enforce federal law in the South, and desegrate bus and train stations.     

New(ish) portrait: Christopher Epps, head of prisons in Mississippi, at Parchman

Christopher Epps at the entrance to Unit 17, Parchman, May 25, 2011.

Unit 17 was maximum security at the state penitentary, and for several weeks in the summer of 1961 its cells were home to the Freedom Riders. Epps was awaiting the arrival of the Riders who had returned to Mississippi, and Parchman, to mark their successful campaign's 50th anniversary. 

In Birmingham they love the governor. In Paris they love the Freedom Riders.

I just returned from five days in Paris to celebrate Grandpa Was a Freedom Rider, a great new documentary by Martial Buisson, a young Parisian filmaker. That's Buisson, above, between Riders Bob Zellner (left) and Lew Zuchman, who also came over for the premiere.    

Opening night was a beautiful spring evening. The movie was screened on a barge-turned-theater docked in the Ourcq Canal, in the Parc de la Villette in northeast Paris. Martial and his team had done a great job outfitting the barge for the event.  

Bob Zellner, Gabriel Junod, Adrien Blondel and Lew Zuchman. Junod edited the documentary. Blondel is Buisson's co-director; the two traveled the United States in a rented RV a little over a year ago to interview Riders. In addition to Zellner and Zuchman, the film includes interviews with John Lewis, Paul Brienes, Ellen Ziskind, Hezekiah Watkins, Charles Person, Margaret Leonard, Joan Mulholland and Dion Diamond.  

Over 200 people attended the opening. The man in the center wearing a tie is Philipe Buission, Martial's father.

John Meldrum and his great 20+ person choir, the Highlites, sang movement songs and more before the screening. Meldrum wrote the soundtrack for the movie.

Blondel and Buisson talking after the screening.

Opening night was great fun, but even better were the series of events that Martial & Co. had put together for the days that followed. The documentary was shown and Zellner and Zuchman spoke three times for different groups: middle-school students from all over Paris, college students and community organizers, many of whom were members of SOS Racisme, a French anti-racist group. Above and below, some of the middle-school students who saw the movie at an event at City Hall. In addition to these events, Buisson, Zellner and Zuchman also did a number of interviews for local media about the project.  

Buisson and his editor, Gabrial Junod, are coming to Mississippi later this month for Return of the Freedom Riders, the 50th anniversary event in Jackson May 22-26, and Grandpa Was a Freedom Rider will be screened several times during the week.