Freedom Rides (Freedom Rides- Stanford) (Freedom Riders- History) (The…
Freedom Rides (Freedom Rides- Stanford) (Freedom Riders- History)
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) launched the freedom rides to protest segregation on interstate buses and bus terminals
"CORE and the Fellowship of Reconciliation organized an interracial bus ride across state lines to test a Supreme Court decision that declared segregation on interstate buses unconstitutional." (Stanford University, Freedom Riders)
The Freedom Rides were first formed in 1947
The "Journey of Reconciliation"
The ride first challenged bus segregation in the upper parts of the South and initially avoiding the dangerous deep south. The riders challenged this part of the south 14 years later.
With the emergence sit-ins and boycotts, the freedom riders gathered enough media attention to become affective nearing the 60s.
A longer bus trip through the South to test the enforcement of Boynton, was the first ride and there were 13 activists who rode.
"Boynton v. Virginia that segregation in the facilities provided for interstate travelers, such as bus terminals, restaurants, and restrooms, was unconstitutional." (Stanford University, Freedom Riders)
On 4 May 1961, the freedom riders left Washington, D.C. and headed to New Orleans. When the riders arrived in Rock Hill, South Carolina, they encountered violence.
2 riders were beat, and 1 arrested for using a whites only bathroom
In Anniston, Alabama, on 14 May, riders were met by a violent mob of over 100 people. Before the bus arrived, Anniston local authorities gave permission to the KKK to strike against the freedom riders without fear of arrest.
At the Birmingham terminal, Eugene “Bull” Connor’s police force offered no protection.
The series of attacks prompted James Farmer (From CORE) to end the campaign. The freedom riders flew back to New Orleans, bringing to an end the first Freedom Ride of the 1960s.
“We can’t let them stop us with violence. If we do, the movement is dead” -Diane Nash
on 17 May 1961, seven men and three women rode from Nashville to Birmingham to resume the Freedom Rides. However, they were all arrested for defying segregation laws.
One of the buses was firebombed, and the fleeing passengers were forced to run into an angry white mob.
Attorney General Robert Kennedy called the Greyhound Company and demanded a driver. In efforts to diffuse the dangerous situation, a Department of Justice representative who accompanied the freedom riders met with an Alabama Governor John Patterson. This resulted in the bus’s departure for Montgomery with a full police escort the next morning.
On November 1, 1961, the ICC ruling that segregation on interstate buses and facilities was illegal took effect.
On May 19, 1961, the Kennedy administration announced that it had directed the ICC to ban segregation in all facilities under its jurisdiction.
However, the rides still did continue.
First Baptist Church
MLK was on tour in Chicago but returned to Montgomery, and staged a rally at the chruch
As King spoke, a threatening white mob gathered outside.
In his speech, King blamed Governor Patterson for “aiding and abetting the forces of violence” and called for federal intervention.
“the federal government must not stand idly by while bloodthirsty mobs beat nonviolent students with impunity” (King, 21 May 1961)
The federal government protected those inside the church. Federal marshals used tear gas to keep the mob at bay. Federal marshals were then replaced by the Alabama National Guard, who escorted people out of the church at dawn.
As the violence and federal intervention propelled the freedom riders to 'national prominence', King became one of the major spokesmen for the rides.