Signing with Dr. Rip Patton

June 20th, 2021

Today was an insightful and surreal day. We were able to sit with Dr. Rip Patton. We didn’t just sit with him, we sat with him around a lunch counter. On this lunch counter was a timeline with pictures, significant moments in the civil rights movement, and engravings of the rules for the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins. Dr. Patton, and others exhibited great discipline when risking their health in the effort to desegregate the lunch counters. We read these rules aloud, and for but a moment, I felt what it could have been like to be a person in the basement of Clark Memorial United Methodist Church learning the discipline of Non-violence from Rev. James Lawson in preparation for civil rights demonstrations.

Reading those rules aloud was a powerful experience, but what I found to be even more moving was having the opportunity to sing Freedom songs with Dr. Patton. Here was a man that risked his life so that me, and generations of people who would come after me, would come closer to experiencing the freedom that America promises all of it’s citizens; and I was able to sing a song like “We shall overcome” with him! I could feel the spirit, encouragment, and strength that these songs provided; what a dreamlike experience.

I left this day, like many other days, feeling grateful to God that he empowered people to stand up for what was right, and help bring about change in this land that previous generations thought to be only a dream, or nightmare, depending on the side of right one was on.