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Sunday, January 31

Obituary : Former New Orleanian Julia Aaron Humbles, activist and Freedom Rider, dies at 72

Julia Aaron Humbles, a New Orleans native and a lifelong activist who inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with her commitment to the civil rights movement, died Tuesday in Stone Mountain, Georgia, of complications from ovarian cancer. She was 72.
In 1961, Humbles’ face made national news because of a photo of her and fellow activist David Dennis sitting on the front seat of a bus next to a soldier armed with a rifle and bayonet. Soldiers had been ordered to protect the Freedom Riders as they rode across the Deep South, determined to desegregate bus stations.
More than 20 years later, her daughter, Johari Humbles, saw the photo in a book she was using for a school project on black history. “A classmate said, ‘Is this your mom?’ And I said, ‘No way,’ ” Johari said. After reading the caption, she realized it was her mother.

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