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Alabama Shakespeare Festival Enter for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Freedom Rides 55th Anniversary Remembrance, Hangout Music Festival Kicks Off Today

Freedom Rides bus
National Civil Rights Museum
Greyhound bus assaulted by segregationists, on display at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.

The Alabama Historical Commission is commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Rides today in Montgomery.

In 1961, a group of largely black students pledged to ride interstate buses through the Southeast to protest the lack of enforcement of bus desegregation laws.

On May 13, one group was attacked and firebombed in Anniston, then attacked again in Birmingham. A week later, another group was assaulted by a mob at a bus station in Montgomery. That bus station is now a civil rights museum, and Freedom Riders from across the country will gather there today to share their story.

One of those Freedom Riders is Birmingham native Catherine Burks-Brooks. She says the riders in her group had been involved in the civil rights movement for years, and knew the risks.

“Most of us had been arrested two or three times, so we didn’t have to go through any training. But we knew it was possible that we could die.”

She says some of them went as far as to write out their wills before getting on the bus. The anniversary commemoration will begin at 10:15 this morning at the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery.

Tens of thousands of music fans will be out on the beach in Gulf Shores later today for the start of Alabama’s biggest festival.

Hangout Music Festival starts this afternoon. It’ll feature acts like Alabamians Jason Isbell and the Alabama Shakes along with dozens more top touring bands and artists. The event started in 2010 as a way to maintain tourism on the Gulf Coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Since then, it’s become one of the premier festivals in the country with an international reputation.

Emily Gonzalez is the Marketing and Public Relations Director for Kaiser Realty in Gulf Shores. She says organizers try to keep the acclaim growing, but the festival itself small.

“They’ve never really wanted it to be a huge event like Coachella or Bonnaroo, they don’t want 100,000 people here. But it’s brought in people from all over the country, and nearly every year of the festival, we’ve had guests from every state of the 50 states, and overseas.”

Hangout Music Fest runs today until Sunday. The last of the 35,000 tickets sold out earlier this week.

A jury in northeast Alabama has returned a $20 million verdict against a local rehab hospital after a patient died in their care.

The Gadsden Times reports that on Wednesday, an Etowah County jury found that a woman received an overdose of non-prescribed opiates while she was a patient at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. A complaint against the hospital says Doris Green's neurological and cognitive abilities remained impaired from the time of the overdose July 5, 2011.

Green died Oct. 22 of that year from what is believed to be an allergic and/or adverse reaction to the opiates.

Attorney David Marsh says he believes the case could be appealed. Marsh says it could be 18 months to two years before the judgment awarded would be paid. Marsh says Green worked for 30 years with the Auburn Cooperative Extension Agency.

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