A Freedom Rider
De’Shunda L. Davis-Brown
The American Experience Since 1945
December 15, 2014
Instructor: James Green
Looking back to 1960 and 1961, I am reminded of a time of fear, despair, inequality as well as accomplishment. Being an African American was hard during those times, but, as an activist and active part of the change seen today in 2014, I am proud to say I was a tremendous part of the Civil Rights Movement. Patterned after a 1947 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) project known as the Journey of Reconciliation, the Freedom Rides began in early May with a single group of thirteen Riders recruited and trained by CORE’s national staff. We were a diverse group of ...view middle of the document...
Even in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Eisenhower had dispatched troops to enforce a court order in 1957, the spirit of intense confrontation had largely subsided by the time of the Freedom Rides.
The first Freedom Ride took place on May 4, 1961 from Washington, D. C., and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17. Seven blacks and six whites left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the Deep South. We intended to test or challenge the United States Supreme Court decisions, Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. In the first few days, we encountered only minor hostility, but in the second week we were severely beaten and treated inhumane. Outside Anniston, Alabama, one of our buses was burned, and in Birmingham several dozen whites attacked us only two blocks from the sheriff's office. Finally, after minimal intervention of the U.S. Justice Department, most of CORE's Freedom Riders were evacuated from Birmingham, Alabama to New Orleans (The Freedom Rides, n.d.). “To most Americans, including the president himself, the rationale behind the Freedom Rides bordered that of madness”, (Arsenault, 2006).
The most memorable day was May 21, 1961. It was a Sunday night, on the New Frontier, and freedom was...