Freedom Riders: The Men And Women Who Fought Segregation On Buses

By Jacob Shelton

In 1961, a group of brave people decided to catch a bus. Their actions didn't require courage (just) because of the germs and filth that cover every surface of most public transportation vehicles; they did it specifically to defy the Jim Crow laws of the Deep South. These "Freedom Riders," as they were called, knew that the only way to affect change in the world was to face the old ways head on, breaking them down barrier by barrier. They were met with violence and rancor, as local police often left them to their own devices, but their painful efforts put the country's eyes on the Civil Rights movement.

After the Supreme Court's ruling of Boynton v. Virginia in 1960, it was unconstitutional to segregate public buses, but many local buses and stations in the South refused to desegregate. In response, activists planned "Freedom Rides" consisting of racially mixed protesters who boarded buses together. The rides were put together by the Congress of Racial Equality as a version of the same group's Journey of Reconciliation in 1947.

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