Freedom Riders

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and following years to test the United States Supreme Court decisions Boynton v. Virginia (1960) and Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946). The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.

Boynton outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel. The ICC failed to enforce its ruling, and Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South.

The Freedom Riders challenged this status quo by riding various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often let white mobs attack them without intervention.

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sponsored most of the subsequent Freedom Rides, but some were also organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Freedom Rides followed dramatic sit-ins against segregated lunch counters, conducted by students and youth throughout the South, and boycotts of retail establishments that maintained segregated facilities, beginning in 1960.

The Supreme Court's decision in Boynton supported the right of interstate travelers to disregard local segregation ordinances, Southern local and state police considered their actions as criminal and arrested the Freedom Riders. In some localities, the police cooperated with Ku Klux Klan chapters and other whites opposing the actions and allowed mobs to attack the riders.

Read more about Freedom Riders:  Starting Point, Mob Violence in Anniston and Birmingham, Mob Violence in Montgomery, Into Mississippi, Notable Freedom Riders, Effects, Commemorations, Bibliography

Other articles related to "freedom riders, freedom":

Mississippi State Penitentiary - History - Parchman Farm and The Freedom Riders (1961)
... In the spring of 1961, Freedom Riders (civil rights activists) went to the American South to work for desegregation of public facilities, including interstate buses ... By the end of June, 163 Freedom Riders had been convicted in Jackson and many were jailed in Parchman ... On June 15, 1961 the first set of Freedom Riders were sent from Hinds County Prison to Parchman ...
Floyd Mann - Freedom Riders
... Director of Public Safety for the state of Alabama in 1961, when the nonviolent Freedom Riders came into the state seeking an end to segregation ... resisting Attorney General Robert Kennedy's demands that the Freedom Riders be protected from the Ku Klux Klan and others who were attacking them at their Alabama stops ... Patterson was a committed segregationist who called the Freedom Riders "fools" and "agitators" for whom he did not want to "play nursemaid" ...
Bernard Lafayette - Freedom Rides
... This movement, known as the Freedom Rides, had African American and white volunteers ride together on bus routes through the segregated South ... After the Freedom Riders were violently attacked in the city of Birmingham, Alabama, the Nashville Student Movement, of which Lafayette was a member, vowed to take over the journey ... At the time, some civil rights leaders worried that the Freedom Rides were too provocative and would damage the movement ...
Freedom Riders - Bibliography
... Raymond Arsenault, Full Version Freedom Riders 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Oxford University Press, 2006) ... Raymond Arsenault, Abridged Version 'Freedom Riders 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice' (Oxford University Press, 2011) Catherine A ... Ann Bausum, Freedom Riders John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement (National Geographic Society, 2005) ...
Henry V. Graham - Biography
... Graham led the Alabama National Guard to protect the Freedom Riders from mob violence ... On the evening of May 21, 1961, Freedom Riders and their supporters met at Ralph Abernathy's First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama to honor their struggle ... Two days later, on May 24, Graham was responsible for escorting the Freedom Riders from the Montgomery bus terminal to the Alabama-Mississippi border using a ...

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