The Freedom Rides

The Freedom Rides


In the 1950’s and 60’s there was a lot of segregation in the southern area of the United States. In fact it was lawful until Brown v board of education. African Americans wanted the same rights as whites, so many people stood up to the laws that were set. One important movement was the Freedom Rides. The Freedom Rides had a lot of setup before the rides happened. There was a lot going on during the rides as well. The Freedom Rides ended up being really successful because of people previously attempting to end segregation, attacks, and how people felt about people not being equal.

Before the Freedom Rides started, there were already a lot of other protests related to segregation happening. For example, CORE, a civil rights activists group, were trying to make places more equal for everyone. An article on described that CORE,”…Attempted to integrate facilities at bus terminals along the way into the Deep South.” Unsurprisingly, there were people working with the issue of segregation. They did simple things like eating at places that were only meant for white people. Another example was an organization made by African Americans called the Congress of Racial Equality(CORE). This organisation was run by Jim Farmer who had to leave for unknown reasons. An article by Terry Gross said, ”Jim Farmer’s unexpected departure placed a heavy burden on Jim Peck, who suddenly found himself in charge of the Freedom Ride.” This is only a small situation that happened sometime near the beginning of the Freedom Rides that led up to things being changed from the way Farmer had led the rides. Finally, the Rock Hill sit-ins was an event that happened in 1960, a year before the freedom rides. What African Americans did was sit in white cafés until they decided to close. Once they opened back up after a few weeks, they would go back and do the same thing. An article by Sophia Naylor said,”Sit-in protests lasted throughout the entire year.” This is one of the major events that happened before the freedom rides and was also set up by CORE. This was one of the first things that made people realize that actions were going to be made about segregation. There were a lot of things happening before the rides, but contradict that, the same amount of activity was going on during the rides.

Attacks also play a role on how the freedom riders were treated. During a ride to Montgomery, some riders had gotten attacked by a group of whites. An article stated,”but on their arrival in Montgomery they were savagely attacked by a mob of more than 1,000 whites.”This is about how there are attacks on the riders and in this situation the attackers could be considered terrorists. They most likely want to keep the power and inequality they have against African Americans. The fact that one bus with a small amount of people was attacked by more than 1,000 people means that they really abhorred the situation and their attention was caught, which isn’t such a bad thing. Next this certain event happened before the previous attack but was a lot more violent. This attack included the KKK and they had tried to burn the bus. This had all occurred because the political leaders didn’t want disobey the supreme court by arresting the Freedom Riders. An excerpt by crmvet. net states,“…100 Klansmen ambush the Riders in Anniston AL, attacking the Greyhound bus…”Some would argue that the Freedom Riders caused more problems and violence. This isn’t true because they are still sending out a message. The fact that people attacked means that they have acknowledged care about what is happening. An attack like this most likely made it to the news, sending the message out to all of the US. Afterwards, the work of the Freedom Riders couldn’t be ignored. An article in stated, “In response to the Freedom Rides, the Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation…”Even though the attacks from all the whites affected and delayed the rides, they were still able to make a difference. The ban only dealt with international travel, but that was still a step up making the use of buses ironic. The attacks slowed down the rides, but people still felt otherwise.

       Many people participated in the freedom rides and they all had their own opinions on it. On the buses, there weren’t only African Americans. They had managed to be powerful enough to get white people on their side as well. Joan Mulholland said,“Segregation was unfair. It was wrong, morally, religiously.”A small amount of whites wanted to support blacks and the fact that more than just Mulholland wanted to help means that people can be really supportive. Still alive today, Diane Nash is an African American civil rights activist. The campaigns that she ran were the most successful in the era. Diane Nash stated,”Traveling in the segregated South for black people was humiliating.”Diane Nash believed that African Americans could be free because she had been doing this for a large portion of her life.She saw a problem in the South and that was what motivated her to help set up the rides. The fact that African Americans were able to gain some rights would leave her pretty content. After Jim Farmer left, leaving Jim Peck who he had been friends with for many years, Peck took over not being too happy about it. The article said,“Now Peck had to go on alone, perhaps to glory…” Peck might not have had positive feelings about taking over the freedom rides, but he wasn’t too negative. He himself is white and he could’ve chosen not to support the freedom rides but he did.

   The Freedom Rides played a big part in helping with African American rights because of previous attempts, people’s thoughts and attacks. The people who acted in the Freedom Rides were truly amazing and we should incorporate their kindness into our own lives.


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