SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The last of the nation’s “Freedom Train” rides paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. made its final trip in California on Monday after more than 30 years of operation.
Organizers said they’re ending the annual train ride — one of more than two dozen “Freedom Trains” launched nationwide by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King — because of declining ridership.
“It’s a really sad day,” said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley, which organized the ride.
She said people now have many other events they can attend on the holiday.
“It’s just a different time and different world, people are just not interested,” she said about the train ride.
Coretta Scott King launched the trains to commemorate the march her husband led from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, nearly 50 years ago. The march demanding voting rights for African Americans proved instrumental in the eventual passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The train carrying about 1,400 people left from San Jose and arrived in San Francisco. People sang during the journey and heard stories about the civil rights movement.
Coretta Scott King chose the San Jose-to-San Francisco route because the distance between is roughly equivalent to the 54 miles traveled by King and his fellow protesters.
“There’s a tremendous amount of pride at being alive at (the same time as) someone as courageous as Dr. King and everyone else who was with him,” Dolores Alvarado of Morgan Hill told KTVU-TV as she rode the train.