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The Freedom Riders

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18 March 2013
Freedom Riders Backlash The Freedom Riders strive through a journey of hardships to have their point accepted by others, which was bus desegregation. Through the journey the Freedom Rides took some obstacles that affected them physically and mentally. They fought threw times like the downfalls that their movement brought and the mobs that greeted them in every state. The mobs were verbally and physically violent towards the Freedom Riders more than a few times while their movement went on. The Freedom Riders went through a devastating downfall through their movement. In May of 1961, the Greyhound carried the Freedom Riders into South Carolina where, like Carson’s article “SNCC” describes, “…John Lewis was the first to be hit as he approached the white waiting room” (SNCC 1). This was a downfall because they were trapped and injured, not being able to move on in their movement. The “MLKJ Research and Education Institute” stated that, “[…] from the attack of Lewis and another rider, the arrest of one participant attracted media coverage.” (MLKJ 1). Their arrival in South Carolina brought an impact on their movement; it began to be shown from each state.
As the Freedom Riders rode into Alabama, a furious mob crowded the Greyhound bus and sent it into flames without care for the people inside. The mob surrounded the bus and locked them inside. In Carmichael Stokleys “Freedom Riders”, she states that the Freedom Riders continued to fight for their rights as the bus was set on flames luckily, “ […] the passengers managed to escape[…]” (“Freedom Riders” 1). Imagining the Freedom Riders trapped in a bus and being set into flames must have been terrifying. Police that were found near the area of the incident were able to break up the scene. In another article, the author states that, “The bus was burned to the ground, but the group took another bus and continued the rides.” (SNCC 1). After this incident they planned on to head to the next location, Montgomery. In this article it also explains how John F. Kennedy “[…] telephoned the governer of Alabama and insisted that it was the government’s responsibility to guarantee safe passage of interstate travelers.” (SNCC 1). The Freedom Riders were then escorted with helicopters of police surrounding them until they entered Montgomery. Entering Montgomery, the Freedom Riders were taken by police and thrown behind bars to stop them from continuing their protest. In the article “MLKJ”, the author describes how, “[…] the local police that had been ordered to meet the freedom rider in Montgomery never appeared.” (MLKJ 1). With them being defenseless, the Freedom Riders were once again bordered by a mob. They were given wounds from the angry mob. According to the same article, “When the police finally arrived, they served the riders with an injunction barring them from continuing the Freedom Ride […].” (MLKJ 2). It was as if the police were not there to protect the Freedom Riders. They let these situations happen uninterrupted and became known as bystanders. Every time the Freedom Riders arrived in a new location, angry mobs greeted them while carrying weapons. Some slashed their tires while others fire bombed the buses. An online article discusses how the mobs, “They attack with baseball bats, broken bottles, and lead pipes.” (Freedom Rides of 1961 3). The reporters that were getting a close interview on this never got the chance to share because their cameras were smashed as well. The angry mobs found every possible way to harm the Freedom Riders. In another article, MLKJ, the author claims , “Aniston local authorities had given permission to the Ku Klux Klan to strike against the Freedom Riders without fear.” (MLKJ 1). The KKK ambushed the buses without fear of becoming arrested. Their hope was to stop other young civilians from joining the Freedom Riders. This is similar to what it states in “MLKJ”, it states that, “One of the buses was firebombed and its fleeing passengers were forced into the angry white mob.” (MLKJ) The Klan tortured them while police and others stood aside and allowed the Klan to have their time. The movement from southern state to southern state included several beatings and many severe injuries. According to Tamika Thompsons, “The activists risked their lives in a nonviolent and brilliant series of actions that were met with violence and brutal attacks.” (Riding for Freedom 1). She was referring to the Freedom Riders. They came up with the idea of standing up for their principles instead of life. In Carmichael Stokley “Freedom Rides”, he discussed how a black man stood up for another black man named James Zwerg and took all his beatings. James Zwerg still went to the hospital unconscious but not knowing if the man who stood up for him survived. (Stokley 3). The Freedom Riders were willing to accept death and keep going until they are able to ride anywhere in the South. The Freedom Riders had to endure terrifying bus rides, during their protest against bus segregation. Several of their rides were ambushed by mobs who over powered the bus. In Terry Gross, “ Get On the Bus: The Freedom Riders of 1961.” , she states that, “While one group of men and boys rocked the bus in a vain attempt to turn the vehicle on its side, a second tried to enter through the front door.” (Gross 3). They surrounded the Freedom Riders by blocking the doors and windows putting the Freedom Riders in fear. The only move that the Freedom Riders did was stay where they were as it all happened until they were ambushed with flames. As reported in “MLKJ”, “The Kennedy administration announced that it had banned segregation […] but rides continued.” ( MLKJ 3). This brought all students to buy tickets and take the bus which put them in crowded jails down in Jackson, Mississippi. The incidents that occurred on their bus rides brought them to lie on the ground as they coughed and bled from all the injuries and devastating acts the angry mobs prepared for them. In closing, sometimes choosing to participate in society can be a big decision. Each person that entered the Freedom Riders chose to be a part of it. They risked their lives by traveling on buses and trains through the South to undo the organization of discrimination. They were brave to take action while taking abuse from angry mobs that surrounded them each time they appeared in a new area. The Freedom Riders obtained obstacles through their movement of desegregation.

Works Cited
"Freedom Riders." Carmichael, Stokely (1941-1998). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
"Freedom Rides." Freedom Rides. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
Gross, Terry. "Get On the Bus: The Freedom Riders of 1961." NPR. NPR, 12 Jan. 2006. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
"King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968)." King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Thompson, Tamika. "Riding for Freedom." PBS. PBS, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
"SNCC 1960-1966: Six Years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee."SNCC 1960-1966: Six Years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

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