by Hugh Wallis
(excerps by MC)
The "freedom riders" were a civil right movement that was pivotal. Some say its been going on for 30 years but it was going on in 1961 ( 50 years ago). ( Mr Wallis sang quite a few of their songs) .It was a peaceful demonstration. They were trained not to fidget nor to retaliate whatever happened. (CORE: congress of racial equality sponsered most of the bus rides)
Their goal was to end segregation like the white only waiting rooms. The Supreme court had held that racial segregation in public transportation was illegal because such segregation violated the Interstate Commerce Act, which broadly forbade discrimination in interstate passenger transportation, which included bus transportation.
The first freedom rides left Washington DC (led by the CORE director). When they got to Anniston, Alabama , they were attacked by a mob of Ku Klux Klan that forced the crippled bus to stop several miles outside of town and firebombed it. The mob jammed the doors so no-one could get out and they were going to let them burn to death . But then , the bomb opened a whole so the riders could get out. They did not fight back. The police were there but it had already been pre- arranged that they would not ido anything for 15 minutes . When the second bus arrived, The riders were beaten-up with baseball bats, brought to prison, the infamous Parchman Farm. They kept their spirit up in jail by singing freedom songs. Their music was in hudge part spiritual (Different religions). The guards were getting fed up and were trying to break their spirits buy taking away their mattress and tooth brush but the riders would keep on singing “There nothing you can do that will stop me” Well , I am on my way to the Freedom land”
Before that first ride in 1961, there was a lot of preparation. There was Irene Morgan in 1944 who was beaten and jailed for refusing to give up her seat on the bus . She was an activist all her life. She went all the way to the the U.S. Supreme court and she won.
She inspired the 1947 Journey of reconciliation where activists drove on buses.
In 1955, Rosa Park, called the “mother of the civil movement”refused to leave her seat, and others followed in her footsteps that year.
The Kennedys called for a "cooling off period" and condemned the Rides as unpatriotic because they embarrassed the nation on the world stage at the height of the Cold War .
But the freedom riders answered “no way, we have been cooling off for 300 years., if we cool off any more, we will be in deep freeze”
“ We shall not be moved”
“The battle goes on”
The riders were fighters fighting in a different way.
With all the broken dreams, it is still a beautifull world!
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