Belmont senior Bianca Edwards performed a tribute to Nashville’s freedom riders at the NAACP Nashville Branch’s 38th Freedom Fund Gala on Nov. 5.
The original poem, titled “Follow Me,” chronicles Edwards’ journey to learn about the freedom riders during an internship and how she discovered her grandmother was a freedom rider in 1961 in Jackson, Miss. The riders rode interstate buses into the segregated South during the Civil Rights Movement and faced harsh brutality as well as federal opposition.
“When (Belmont Director of Community Relations) Joyce Searcy called me and asked me to do a tribute to the Nashville freedom riders, I immediately thought about Oprah’s tribute in May. I was interning at BET, which has at least 20 TVs in the office, and this particular day everyone was talking about Oprah’s special. I had not heard anything about it and am ashamed to say I did not know what the freedom riders were,” Edwards said.
“I watched this special from beginning to end and felt so enlightened and empowered. You can always look at something and say that while you are in the moment that God has a plan, but you don’t truly know that plan until you look back at other events. In May, God started preparing me for this event and it is interesting how everything came together, and I am grateful,” she said.
Edwards is known on campus for her lyrical ability as a rap artist. She performed under the stage name Miss B at Belmont’s 2011 Urban Pop Showcase and previously won the showcase in 2009.