Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Freedom Riders: History
May 4, 1961 to December 16, 1961
During the spring of 1961, student activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) launched the Freedom Rides to challenge segregation on interstate buses and bus terminals. Traveling on buses from Washington, D.C., to Jackson, Mississippi, the riders met violent opposition in the Deep South, garnering extensive media attention and eventually forcing federal intervention from John F. Kennedy’s administration. Although the campaign succeeded in securing an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) ban on segregation in all facilities under their jurisdiction, the Freedom Rides fueled existing tensions between student activists and Martin Luther King, Jr., who publicly supported the riders, but did not participate in the campaign.
Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Riders
The Road South by
Call Number: E185.61 .H715 2018
Publication Date: 2018-05-01
Revisits the inspiring and heroic stories of the Freedom Riders, through their own words. In May 1961, despite multiple Supreme Court rulings, segregation remained alive and well within the system of interstate travel. All across the American South, interstate buses as well as their travel facilities were divided racially. This blatant disregard for law and morality spurred the Congress of Racial Equality to send thirteen individuals--seven black, six white--on a harrowing bus trip throughout the South as a sign of protest. These original riders were met with disapproval, arrests and violence along the way, but that did not stop the movement. That summer, more than four hundred Freedom Riders continued their journey--many of them concluding their ride at Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm, where they endured further abuses and indignities. As a result of the riders sacrifice, by November of 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission finally put an end to interstate commerce segregation, and in the process, elevated the riders to become a source of inspiration for other civil rights campaigns such as voter registration rights and school desegregation. While much has been written on the Freedom Rides, far less has been published about the individual riders. Join award-winning author B. J. Hollars as he sets out on his own journey to meet them, retracing the historic route and learning the stories of as many surviving riders as he could. The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders offers an intimate look into the lives and legacies of the riders. Throughout the book these civil rights veterans' poignant, personal stories offer timely insights into America's racial past and hopeful future. Weaving the past with the present, Hollars aims to demystify the legendary journey, while also confronting more modern concerns related to race in America. The Road South is part memoir and part research-based journalism. It transcends the traditional textbook version of this historical journey to highlight the fascinating stories of the many riders--both black and white--who risked their lives to move the country forward.
Freedom Riders by
Call Number: E185.61 .A69 2011
Publication Date: 2011-03-11
The saga of the Freedom Rides is an improbable, almost unbelievable story. In the course of six months in 1961, four hundred and fifty Freedom Riders expanded the realm of the possible in American politics, redefining the limits of dissent and setting the stage for the civil rights movement.In this new version of his encyclopedic Freedom Riders, Raymond Arsenault offers a significantly condensed and tautly written account. With characters and plot lines rivaling those of the most imaginative fiction, this is a tale of heroic sacrifice and unexpected triumph.Arsenault recounts how a group of volunteers - blacks and whites - came together to travel from Washington DC through the Deep South, defying Jim Crow laws in buses and terminals and putting their lives on the line for racial justice. News photographers captured the violence in Montgomery, shockingthe nation and sparking a crisis in the Kennedy administration. Here are the key players - their fears and courage, their determination and second thoughts, and the agonizing choices they faced as they took on Jim Crow - and triumphed.Winner of the Owsley PrizePublication is timed to coincide with the airing of the American Experience miniseries documenting the Freedom Rides
Breach of Peace by
Call Number: E185.93 .M6 E84 2008 (4th floor oversize collection)
Publication Date: 2009-12-15
In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred Americans - black and white, male and female - converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge the state segregation laws. The Freedom Riders, as they came to be known, were determined to open up the South to civil rights. Over 300 were arrested and convicted of 'breaching of the peace'. The name, mug shot and other personal details of each arrested Freedom Rider were duly recorded and saved. Collected here is a richly illustrated book book featuring contemporary photos and interviews alongside the mug shots.
Freedom's Main Line by
Call Number: E185.61 .C38 2009eb (Online)
Publication Date: 2009-01-23
Black Americans in the Jim Crow South could not escape the grim reality of racial segregation, whether enforced by law or by custom. In Freedom's Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides, author Derek Charles Catsam shows that courtrooms, classrooms, and cemeteries were not the only front lines in African Americans' prolonged struggle for basic civil rights. Buses, trains, and other modes of public transportation provided the perfect means for civil rights activists to protest the second-class citizenship of African Americans, bringing the reality of the violence of segregation into the consciousness of America and the world. In 1947, nearly a decade before the Supreme Court voided school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, sixteen black and white activists embarked on a four-state bus tour, called the Journey of Reconciliation, to challenge discrimination in busing and other forms of public transportation. Although the Journey drew little national attention, it set the stage for the more timely and influential 1961 Freedom Rides. After the Supreme Court's 1960 ruling in Boynton v. Virginia that segregated public transportation violated the Interstate Commerce Act, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and other civil rights groups organized the Freedom Rides to test the enforcement of the ruling in buses and bus terminals across the South. Their goal was simple: "to make bus desegregation," as a CORE press release put it, "a reality instead of merely an approved legal doctrine." Freedom's Main Line argues that the Freedom Rides, a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, were a logical, natural evolution of such earlier efforts as the Journey of Reconciliation, their organizers following models provided by previous challenges to segregation and relying on the principles of nonviolence so common in the larger movement. The impact of the Freedom Rides, however, was unprecedented, fixing the issue of civil rights in the national consciousness. Later activists were often dubbed Freedom Riders even if they never set foot on a bus. With challenges to segregated transportation as his point of departure, Catsam chronicles black Americans' long journey toward increased civil rights. Freedom's Main Line tells the story of bold incursions into the heart of institutional discrimination, journeys undertaken by heroic individuals who forced racial injustice into the national and international spotlight and helped pave the way for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.