Freedom Rides

Testing the Enforcement of the Boynton Case

Background

The Freedom Rides were launched by a pair of student activists form CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). This group was created to challenge segregation on buses and bus terminals, since it had been ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. This group did receive much opposition in the Deep South. Eventually, JFK had to intervene on this, and he established an ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) ban on all facilities within their jurisdiction. Due to this, tensions also rose between Martin Luther King Jr, since he did support the riders, but wouldn't participate in the campaign.


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The First Idea

They thought of Freedom Rides idea was first conceived back in 1947 when CORE and the Fellowship of Reconciliation established a bus that was interracial. This was meant to test a Supreme Court action which made segregation on interstate buses unconstitutional. This also tested segregation in the upper south, avoiding the lower South. Unfortunately, this didn't get much attention, until fourteen years later. The idea was brought back by CORE, and it eventually received enough attention to force changes in federal enforcement, and policies.

The Purpose

Back in 1946, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that segregation illegal. CORE wanted to take advantage of this by making the freedom rides; an interracial bus program that rode through the south, and took volunteers to ride on the bus to test the enforcement of the Boynton v. Virginia case in 1960. They also of course had to avoid the Deep South, since they received violent opposition in the Deep South where they would do things such as set their buses on fire.

The First Freedom Ride

On May 4th of 1961, the Freedom Riders began a ride that started in Washington D.C. They resisted arrest in Virginia, but they later encountered violence in South Carolina; Lewis was beaten, and another member was arrested for using a whites only restroom. After this Martin Luther King Jr. talked with them and told them that they'd never make it through Alabama. On May 14th, when they rode into Anniston, they met with a violent mob of over 100 people. The police had also given the Ku Klux Klan permission to attack the riders without being arrested. One bus was fire bombed by the mob, and passengers fled, but were forced into the mob. After this, the freedom riders fled to New Orleans, where they would end the first Freedom Ride.

Later On

The Freedom Riders would later conduct more freedom rides, but they would also be met with violence, and King even criticized the government for just letting them do it. In May of 1961, Kennedy passed the ICC, making segregation on public transportation illegal in all facilities under their jurisdiction, but they still continued the rides, and people still continued to purchase bus tickets for these rides. Eventually, on November 1st, 1961, the ruling of the ICC that made segregation on public transportation illegal took effect.

Works Cited

"Freedom Rides." Freedom Rides. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.