Freedom Riders

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Freedom Riders,

American civil-rights demonstrators who engaged (1961) in nonviolent protests against segregation of public interstate buses and terminals in the South. From the 1940s several federal court decisions and an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) order had ruled against such segregation. Nonetheless, it remained a fact of life in buses, trains, and terminals throughout the South. In May, 1961, 13 Freedom Rider volunteers, seven black, six white, and nearly all young, were recruited by the Congress of Racial EqualityCongress of Racial Equality
(CORE), civil-rights organization founded (1942) in Chicago by James Farmer. Dedicated to the use of nonviolent direct action, CORE initially sought to promote better race relations and end racial discrimination in the United States.
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 (CORE) to challenge state Jim Crow laws by riding buses together into the Deep South. Two buses set out to take them from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. Serious violence erupted in Alabama when one bus was firebombed near Anniston, and riders in the other were badly beaten in Birmingham. While the original riders were forced to fly to New Orleans, waves of successive protesters followed them to integrate Southern buses. Many were injured, many forced to take refuge in local churches, and some 300 were arrested and held in Southern jails. Federal marshalls were sent to Montgomery and martial law was declared in the state. More riders continued to arrive, and within six months the Kennedy administration had taken action and the Freedom Rider movement had succeeded. The ICC outlawed segregation in interstate travel, the Supreme Court voided state segregation laws in public transportation, and segregation of such facilities in the South came to an end.


See J. Peck, Freedom Ride (1962); D. Halberstam, The Children (1998); R. Arsenault, Freedom Riders (2006); B. Watson, Freedom Summer (2010).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Freedom Rides became weekly, and would usually end at Meadowhall Shopping Centre with a rally with other Freedom Riders from Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield - and the chance of a bit of shopping before heading for home.
Attorney General Robert F Kennedy responded by sending John Seigentha-ler, his assistant, to ensure that the Freedom Riders made it safely from Birmingham to New Orleans after the firebombing.
Elwin Wilson said he had an awakening after Barack Obama was elected president, and telephoned a local newspaper in 2009 to admit that he had beaten Freedom Riders and other activists, and apologized for his deeds.
When he rode with the Freedom Riders, his Trailways bus was mobbed by racist thugs who severely beat the riders and almost mauled Booker.
In May, when the first Freedom Riders, whose trip began in Washington, were assaulted in Alabama and too severely injured to continue their journey, Seigenthaler was dispatched by the president and attorney general to Birmingham to escort the "Riders" by commercial airlines to their destination: New Orleans.
This new generation of Freedom Riders will further inspire Westerners for whom "It is a moral duty to end complicity in this Israeli system of apartheid," according to arrested Hebron resident Badee Dwak.
13 -- Groups of Palestinian Freedom Riders will attempt to board segregated settler buses heading to Jerusalem through the occupied West Bank this Tuesday November 15, in an act of civil disobedience that takes its inspiration from the US Civil Rights Movement Freedom Riders aim to challenge Israel's apartheid policies, the ban on Palestinians' access to Jerusalem, and the overall segregated reality created by a military and settler occupation that is the cornerstone of Israel's colonial regime.
BREACH OF PEACE: PORTRAITS OF THE 1961 MISSISSIPPI FREEDOM RIDERS provides a powerful survey of the summer of 1961 and the freedom rider experience in Jackson Mississippi, and is a 'must' for any civil rights history collection.
The novel is set in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1961, when the Freedom Riders were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan.
Deliberately challenging local laws and customs that perpetuated segregation, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence that sorely tested their belief in nonviolent activism.
They compare themselves to the Freedom Riders who 50 years ago, rode buses to the South to challenge racial segregation then maintained by Southern states.
Growing up in Chicago, I was too young to join the Freedom Riders in 1961, but was able to work for their cause soon after.