The Freedom Rides 1961

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  • 1960: Boynton v Virginia case
    Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for Southern states to impose segregation at interstate bus terminals in their state
  • James Farmer, who revitalised CORE after its post-war decline decided to test whether this could be enforced

The Plan:

  • Group of black and white protestors travel from Washington to New Orleans 
  • If they were able to mix on the bus or at bus terminals, they would have defeated segregation
  • If attacked in defiance of federal law, they would gain positive media coverage and pressure would be placed on federal politicians to intervene
  • Any violence against white protestors would have a particularly big impact

What happened:

  • First attack was at Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Then at Anniston, Alabama the bus was firebombed
  • Police did nothing on both occasions
  • It took 30 state trooper cars and police helicopters circling overhead to prevent further attacks
  • Until bus reached Birmingham, Alabama, where…


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