History of the Civil Rights movement By Cristina Vignone
_ Freedom Rides (1961)
In 1961, more than four hundred Americans participated in sixty Freedom Rides in the Deep South. Like the Journey of Reconciliation of 1947—in which eight black men and eight white men traveled for two weeks on southern interstate buses in defiance of segregation law—the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights movement were organized by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). The plan was simple: beginning on May 4 in Washington D.C., three white women, three white men and seven African American men would board Trailway and Greyhound buses traveling through six states before arriving at a rally in Louisiana. The amount of riders grew as the Freedom Ride movement gained publicity, yet at nearly every stop along their route the activists were met by white mobs determined to forcibly impose racial segregation. _
Across the south, state police routinely allowed fifteen minutes of angry bat and chain-wielding citizens to carry out violent attacks. In Anniston and Birmingham, members of the Ku Klux Klan slashed tires and struck the activists after firebombing their buses. Despite the nonviolent concept of the movement, many of the riders were arrested—328 in Mississippi alone by the end of the summer—for trespassing, breaching the peace and violating Jim Crow laws. The Kennedy administration disapproved of the Freedom Ride’s negative media attention and demanded a halt after sending in marshals and the National Guard to escort the activists.
In the following audio clip John Lewis, one of the original thirteen Freedom Riders and now a United States Representative for Georgia, recounts his participation in the movement and the injuries he received as a result of his dedication to civil rights activism.
Black Panthers and other Histories Video and Audio Recordings
 Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 24.
 John A. Kirk, “Battle Cry of Freedom: Little Rock: Arkansas, and the Freedom Rides at Fifty,” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies, August 2011, Vol. 42 Issue 2, pp. 76-103, 81.
 Ibid, 83. Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, 297.