Changemakers: Cindy Dinh: A present-day Freedom Fighter


This summer Cindy Dinh ’11 boarded a school bus, but she wasn’t headed to class. Dinh, along with a select group of high school, undergraduate, doctoral and law students, was embarking on a ride commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. With key stops along the way, the journey afforded Dinh a glimpse into milestones that changed the nation and put her in the company of others — young and old — who have made civil rights their life’s work.

Cindy Dinh '11

Cindy Dinh '11 (right) and one of the original Freedom Riders, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Photo courtesy of Cindy Dinh '11.

A joint degree candidate in law and public policy between the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Dinh was chosen as a rider through a competitive process sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Participants came from 18 states and the District of Columbia and were joined by six original Freedom Riders — civil rights activists — who a half century ago rode buses into the segregated South, making a stand for justice, equality and freedom. The ride took place exactly 50 years later to the day that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the law outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and for Dinh it further strengthened her commitment to affect social change.

“There was so much symbolism on the trip,” Dinh said. “Many of us on the bus were the same age as the original Freedom Riders when they first traveled through the South.” The Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, both original Freedom Riders, joined Dinh and her bus mates, and student leaders rotated seats throughout the ride, giving them time to talk to the civil rights veterans.

This story is featured in the fall 2014 issue of Rice Magazine. To read the rest of the story and see other stories, visit


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