Albert Gordon


As remembered by Paul T. Murray
March 15, 2022

Freedom Rider Albert Gordon passed away on March 4, 2022, at the age of 87.

Al was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1934, and came to the U.S. with his parents at the age of seven. They were refugees from Hitler's persecution of the Jews. Several of his family members perished in the Holocaust.

In 1961 he was teaching history at Tilden High School in Brooklyn. He attended a meeting about the Freedom Rides sponsored by CORE and immediately volunteered to become a Freedom Rider. "I always felt deeply about issues of justice and in justice," he later recalled.

He remembered being "petrified" with fear as he traveled south with nine other volunteers. When they reached Jackson, Mississippi, they were greeted by Tom Gaither, a CORE staff member who took them into the Black community where they were sheltered for a couple of days. The group returned to the Trailways bus station a few days later where whites sat at the Black lunch counter and Blacks sat at the white lunch counter. They were arrested and charged with "breach of peace."

After a few days in the Jackson jail, Al and the other Freedom Riders were transported to Parchman prison where they served thirty-nine days before being released on bail. Their conviction was eventually reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Al continued his activism, returning to the South in 1965 for the Selma voting rights demonstrations. That summer he did voter registration work in Sunflower County, Mississippi, and lived in a sharecropper's home next door to Fannie Lou Hamer. He treasured memories of "bonding with people united with one objective" while singing "We Shall Overcome."

He continued his activism during the later 1960s, becoming very involved in the antiwar movement. In 1969 Al opened Tribal Arts Gallery in Manhattan selling African Art. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. Eventually, he opened the Origins Gallery in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and settled in Stephentown, New York.

Al claimed that he grew more radical as he aged, but he never lost his infectious sense of humor and his righteous indignation at injustice.

Rest in peace, Al.

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