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Posted on: February 7, 2017

College Park Celebrates a Rich Tradition of History Year-Round: Meet Dr. Peter Stoner

In the summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders, a group of mostly young people, both black and white, risked their lives to challenge the system of segregation in interstate travel in the South.  One of the Freedom Riders is Dr. Peter L. Stoner, who resides part time in College Park with his daughter, Pamela Stoner - the wife of Ward IV Councilman Roderick Gay.  

The Freedom Riders' purpose, was “to test the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional."  

Stoner entered the University of Chicago at an early age, sixteen. This is similar to another Freedom Rider that Stoner had direct interaction with:  Martin Luther King, Jr., who entered Morehouse College at 15 years of age.

Voter registration was one of the objectives of the Freedom Riders, concentrating mostly in rural Mississippi, where Stoner was jailed on numerous occasions. "Every day was eventful," said Stoner, when asked about the most memorable moment of the Freedom Summer of 1961.  "When I got out of jail the last time, Hattiesburg was building up for their freedom push...there were just hundreds of people who were in Hattiesburg....and I drove some of them down there and helped with a few things."

One significant incident was his jailing at Parchman Prison, Mississippi's notorious Delta region prison farm, where inmates would serve on average approximately 45 days doing hard labor.

Dr. Stoner was among the few white organizers who owned an automobile; on one occasion, he was chosen to drive Dr. King, as organizers thought perhaps, it would lead to Dr. King's safety.

Today, Dr. Stoner enjoys another link to the legacy of Dr. King:  Blake Stoner, Dr. Stoner's grandson, is scheduled to graduate from Morehouse College, Dr. King's alma mater.  Blake has engaged in an abundance of international travel as an undergrad, and as he moves closer to his graduation date, Dr. Stoner remains equally proud of his duties as a Freedom Rider, as well as the seemingly unlimited apex that his grandson is on course for.   

Video Interview - Dr. Peter Stoner
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College Park City Hall
3667 Main St.
College Park, GA 30337
Phone: (404) 767-1537