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The Freedom Riders: Sacrifices In The South

1286 words - 5 pages

On May 4, 1961, the Freedom Riders left the safety of the integrated, northern city of Washington D.C. to embark on a daring journey throughout the segregated, southern United States (WGBH). This group of integrated white and black citizens rode together on buses through different towns to test the effectiveness of newly designed desegregation laws in bus terminals and areas surrounding them (Garry). Founded by the Congress of Racial Equality (Garry) , or CORE, the first two Freedom Ride buses included thirteen people as well as three journalists to record what would become imperative historical events in the Civil Rights Movement. This group of fifteen people would begin to emerge as an organization that would eventually reach 400 volunteers (WGBH). Those involved were mostly young, college students whose goal it was, as said by the CORE director James Farmer, to “…create a crisis so that the federal government would be compelled to enforce the law.” (Smith). But on their journey throughout these southern states, the Freedom Riders faced many challenges, threats, and dangers.
Of the confrontations, the first one encountered by the Freedom Riders was in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was here that Joseph Perkins was arrested for attempting to get his shoes polished in a whites’-only shoeshine chair. After choosing no bail, Perkins spent two nights in jail. However, this was nothing for Perkins, who had spent two years in the army and engaged in other civil rights movements. After leaving the military, Perkins joined in on the lunch sit-ins to end counter segregation. Because of his great accomplishments and bravery, the CORE thought he would be a positive addition to the group; therefore, they asked him to join in August of 1960. His intelligence proved worthy when attending court and the judge, Howard B. Arbuckle, found Perkins innocent due to Boynton v Virginia (WGBH). This court ruling prohibited racial segregation in public facilities that served interstate travelers (Garry). Perkins then continued his quest with the Freedom Riders throughout the South (WGBH).
On May 14, 1961, also Mother’s Day that year, the Freedom Ride bus entered Anniston, Alabama and was greeted with a whole new level of brutality they had not yet experienced in the South (Smith). With 200 white protestors patiently waiting, the bus kept driving to try and avoid the complications; however, the mob was persistent and followed. The bus, however, was eventually forced to halt. (NA) Within minutes, the angry protestors were throwing rocks and bricks, as well as smashing windows with pipes and axes. Next a firebomb was thrown through a shattered window, and the mob blocked the door so the passengers could not get out. As the outsiders began shouting obscenities and yelling folderol, the bus windows slowly started leaking with smoke. Riders didn’t escape until the troopers scared off the protesters with threats. But even then, some of the Riders were beaten with bats and...

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