Zwerg looked like a bloody scarecrow. His eyes were blackened and his suit was splattered with blood. After he was hospitalized, a news crew filmed him in his hospital bed. Barely able to speak, Zwerg declared that violence wouldn't stop him or any of his friends. The Freedom Rides would go on.
Zwerg became one of the movement's first heroes. Although his physical wounds healed, the emotional ones took longer. He was wracked with guilt and depression after the beating. He drank too much, contemplated suicide, and finally had to seek therapy
The whole article is worth reading. Some of my comments are here. They are my random thoughts as I read the article.
Regardless of continued inequality. I can't think of anyone today who would face the same risks fighting bigotry. To me, the freedom riders were genuine heros.
Today probably the only ones who would face the same risks would be supporters for / providers of abortion rights - that can get you killed.
"One of the men grabbed Zwerg's suitcase and smashed him in the face with it. Others slugged him to the ground, and when he was dazed beyond resistance, one man pinned Zwerg's head between his knees so that the others could take turns hitting him.'"
The subsequent description makes his experience sound like a form of rapture. I don't mean to belittle it. It shows a bottomless well of character and courage.
His family was given to drama, so possibly so was he. Also, he sounds very religious. Religion was one of his driving forces.
"But coming down from the mountaintop, after the movement, was deflating, Zwerg says. He couldn't find that bond again. "It's a tremendous downer. You look for it everywhere. I've never experienced it since.
That's how I felt after I got out of the Army.
I would like to have seen the story of John Lewis in the same article. Very much.