Nashville Freedom Rider Ernest ‘Rip’ Patton dies at 81

National News

1961 Freedom Rider Ernest “Rip” Patton talks during a keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Sevierville, Tenn. Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. Patton, a member of the Nashville Freedom Riders and civil rights leader, has died, according to the Freedom Rides Museum. He was 81. (AP Photo/The Mountain Press, Curt Habraken)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Freedom Rider and civil rights leader Ernest “Rip” Patton has died. He was 81.

The Freedom Rides Museum announced the death on Tuesday. Patton participated in the downtown Nashville civil rights sit-ins in 1960, a movement that eventually led to the desegregation of the city’s lunch counters and other public spaces.

A year later, Patton was among the first wave of Freedom Riders to arrive in Jackson, Mississippi.

Patton attended nonviolence workshops led by civil rights champion the Rev. James Lawson.

He later went on to be a truck driver and jazz musician, while also remaining a vocal advocate and educator of the civil rights movement.

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