In 1961, buses and terminals in the South were illegally segregated. The Civil Rights group CORE sent riders to test the law, riding from D.C., to New Orleans. However, no one was prepared for the violence that waited in Alabama. Tune in to learn more.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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haven't really been seeing them see you now available wherever you get pie, guests welcomes stuff. You missed in history class from house of works, dot com,
alone will accrue to the camps, unfair and I'm doing a truck reporting, and you could be forgiven for thinking it lighting sixty one again with all of the big civil rights anniversaries that has been in the news that your fiftieth anniversary,
true, most notably the fiftieth anniversary of the freedom rights. This past May, when more,
four hundred people
All ages, male female black white, different religions from all over the country decided
challenge the racial segregation of interstate buses. The freedom rights have been really well covered, their fear. There have been articles news stories to reunions of writers, one in Jackson, Mississippi one in Chicago in Scotland, with hosted by Oprah herself. There was
fantastic american experience, documentary based on the book on the freedom writers by Raymond
to now there have been a bad, then were
since from the writers and national papers, but
We do not want to let the May anniversary of the freedom rights stop us from doing a pike.
on them in September, because September's off
a really important date for the freedom rights. When change actually happened, when the interstate commerce coming
and finally ruled that the sign segregating
some blacks at birth and train facilities.
to come down and actually back
that ruling with a really have define for offenders, though, that ruling
validated the riders in their tactic, then that's worth pointing out before we
into this too part episode on the freedom rights and before we get into how the ride started
has even though today the riders
clearly celebrated as civil rights heroes.
Time. What they were doing was extremely controversial even within
civil rights movement itself so
know what they were, what they were setting out to do they just near they had to do it yet, but before we even get to the rides themselves, are story really starts and nineteen forty four with a woman named Irene Morgan
Now everyone knows Rosa Parks right and her refusal to give up her best seat in the nineteen fifties, but it
agreed earlier. Morgan refused to give up her see on a greyhound travelling through Virginia
and Morgan who made world war. Two bomber planes for a plan for a living was coming home
Baltimore after visiting her mother. So after a few
to move she kept to the sheriffs deputy who tried to take off the bus and later she said,
I started to bite him, but he looked dirty so I can buy them. So all I could do
claw and tear his clothes in that and other greatcoats her from her near Times Obituary, but Morgan was
stood and went on
that one hundred dollar fine for resisting arrest, but she refused to pay
Ten dollar fine for violate
Virginia law about segregated feeding, though it was after court. She went and eventually the and doubly cp took up her case and appealed to the Supreme Court.
And in nineteen forty six, the court actually ruled in her favour and Morgan versus Virginia and just the gist of the ruling. Here
feeding arrangements for the different races in interstate motor travel requires
single uniform rules to promote and protect national travel found simple enough. Basically, you can't make african Americans than in the back
and white people sit in the front. Nobody should be giving up their feet and less so to an old person.
or something like that, though it sounds simple, but it wasn't because southern states continued
You thought the lie with segregated feeding February
waiting rooms rest rounds, water fountains, though, eventually somebody to
that. They needed to do something and actually test out this new law that was agreed
organised by the Congress of racial equality or core and the fellowship
conciliation they decided to test the new ruling by staging the journey of reconciliation through the Upper South, the upper Sal
it's important here, especially when we get into the later freedom rights where they had in two
Burma in Mississippi in and things get a lot different back in eighteen, forty seven. They knew that wasn't an option rape. So basically, how does it
worked, eight black men and eight white men would ride on interstate buses and trains and see if Morgan versus Virginia was alone action, or in name only. So there was a catch, though
It would be nonviolent even if they were found
twitter, arrests or beatings. The writers would not react so well,
working, had been inspiration for ass. She was obviously not their nonviolent role model with her attended by the knowledge that I think that make them work in such an interesting character and the whole thing to which is such a famous nonviolence.
movement that she is the inspiration for it. But for
nonviolent inspiration. Leaders instead turned to Gandhi, and he actually was the inspiration for courts founding back in nineteen forty two, but the journey
conciliation. It sounds like it's gonna make waves sounds like a big deal, but it really didn't have that much of an impact. The writer
the dead meat with violence. Three of them spent a month on a North Carolina chain gang after violating segregation rules in chapel hill, but the store
wasn't really picked out by national media and folks, just weren't that interested so
civil rights that the ride ultimately quote brought about little change and was soon forgotten by all, but a handful of nonviolent activists so
decade goes by and then another
in sixty some important things start to happen to inspire a new wave of freedom rights. One of those things is that
case elected president and others
Nashville citizens and
negation at city, lunch counters there and also
Supreme Court issues. Another decision related to interstate travel, this time, it's a boyfriend,
this Virginia, which made any racial segregation you
go and interstate commerce nuts anything so not only should a black person be able to take any seat on the bus, he should also
able to use any waiting room, restroom
the counter and so on it. So there is a new Supreme Court decision in this momentum going from the national citizens and core in its director
aims. Farmer, decide let's task this new
boy inversely Virginia. So this time
not only were the new riders keep that direct action movement of the students going. They would help promote
or two on this national scale, since it was after all,
well now and then, and doubly cp or snack or the as the Elsie, and that something
HU, as we mentioned at the beginning that this once kind of controversial within the movement. That was something that added to the ambivalence or sometimes outright hostility directed
the initial ride by much of the movement, but we ve gotta, give you a sense of,
how these initial core riders were pigs because they weren't you
Willy nilly passengers on the birth they all had to be trained. They all had to come with
recommendations even and again, they all kind of came from different sort of facets of
if one member James Pack was from Manhattan and he had
dissipated in the nineteen forties journey of reconciliation. So he has some experience with us
Others were handpicked to maintain their nonviolent directive. So, in addition to having to get recommendations, Acerra said the young.
Some them also had to get parental permission.
so underwent careful training to resist that violent impulse, but really they only anticipated refusal of service and possibly may be around. You can see videos, though, of this training and it's pretty fascinating, to watch and really uncomfortable, because you know it is a simulated situation in these people actually I'll know each other. Well, there's them
playing antagonize are the woman playing the waitress than it is strange to see
As you mentioned, they were from all different walks of life. They were all ages, all professions, students, retirees editors, the folk, thinner and
were from the north or the MID West, with a few southern exceptions, including probably the most famous
Jean Louis Use from Alabama. But that's something off
to consider when we were mentioned earlier about the
stability or ambivalence, within the movement that these people were large.
or than ours were largely mid westerners and they were coming into the south to test these segregate.
Jim Crow rules for the first riders.
may for nineteen sixty wine. They were departing from Washington DC and, ultimately, the
final destination was going to be neutral and which the birthright that was
take a while and they didn't really know what they would encounter along the way, but the buster,
outlining its way through Virginia and North Carolina. There were thirteen riders, they were taking.
greyhound aunt railways. Buses are two different lines: just testing out the whole range of the system and at first they really thought they expected stations
Swift, reluctantly break from their segregationist policies, just while the writers where they are so
go ahead and lead them set in the black sitting room or the white sitting room, the whatever race they weren't. Let them
is the wrong restroom, whatever they were doing and then just let them be
get on their backs and move on through town get out of their hair and
presumably return to business as usual, which was full,
segregation, but by Charlotte North Carolina that wasn't what was happening. Any more people weren't, just letting it flight until they were gone, trouble started there were
arrests and beatings and rock he'll South Carolina
By May thirteenth, be writers finally made it
land where they had this little get to go.
sort of pause in the ride planned with Doktor Martin Luther king,
and they were really hoping that when they got there, he would join in the cause of freedom writer with them, but instead heat
very different attitude. He will he warned them. He told them tat. He heard bad news coming out of Alabama and they should see
see reconsider continuing on an even questioning the wisdom of what they were doing in the first place, whether this was really helping. The movement fell
was this pretty discouraging news to hear at their Atlanta reception and to make them
worth James farmer. The leader of course, gets word that his
other has died and has to pull out for a few days to go home. Still, though, may Fourteenth mother's day,
the leader less rider that off from Atlanta Birmingham Alabama on Greyhound
try always buses that are leaving one hour apart and sure enough
shortly after crossing the Alabama state line, one of the buses runs into trouble
the greyhound hits a crowd of about two hundred men in Afghanistan. Yeah, that's all.
Plans clansmen lies down in front of the bus, so
other members of the mob can slash the tires and
thus maneuvers out of town that its followed and hounded by a car. Then, finally, the tires go flat: the driver
out check some and walked away. Just leave the people on the back
and there is this really harrowing scene and documentary. Where passenger may Francis Moultrie here someone shouting, whereas the gas, whereas the gas he had a
recommend to you that documentary for seeing some of these freedom riders reflect on it and and say what they heard and why they experience, but the mom
hacked the bus and throws a firebomb in through the back window and then blocked the door to prevent the people from
off and also keep in mind there aren't
freedom, writers, on this past, their regular passengers too, who are just trying to get to Birmingham or wherever and are caught up in this two things ultimately
save the riders and those on affiliated bus passengers. The fuel tank explodes which makes them
back away from the bath and then highway patrolman finally arrive, but not until the coffin
poking passengers who have just escaped from the bus are beaten by the crowd. There's one catch, though, with this with this violent theme
photographs are taken and it becomes a major new story and they go worldwide. They had not just a national news story becomes worldwide news, something tat
all happening in the United States, but meanwhile that second,
ass the still chugging on toward Birmingham yeah. Where little did they know the city's commissioner pub
safety bore. Connor, has made a deal with the K K, K,
he'll is that when the bus comes to town, the clan will get fifteen minutes without police interference to do whatever they want the people in the back
Arrests no trouble at all
there's another catch to this to the FBI had an informant and the clan, and he knew the plan to attack the bus J Edgar
it didn't report the mobs plans to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the informant, even protest.
Hey did when the mob attacked and beat the writers as they came into the station. We were gonna talk about that a little more in the part two of this episode in and some of the legal battles that ensued, but just like an
This then photographers get pictures of this
Maude attacking the passengers. Coming
Atlanta, and this news makes
international headlines too. It is very disturbing to people in it something that the federal,
illustration really can ignore. So Jim Pack, who has been
surely in charge than schemes farmer left makes the call to continue the right from the hospital. He has been severely
Denoting here too, that a lot of
white riders, would be targeted, initially sort of as betrayers to their raised by the mob. So Jim Pack
really really bad off. Pictures of him are disturbing to see by. He said that they felt quote. They must not surrender to violate the let's, not
here there is a problem. Now, like I mean that's very noble, brave thing today, at a time
Tell the ride, but there's a problem. None of that
ivory out of Birmingham are willing to take them. Nobody wants to risk it. Nobody wants to risk being on firebomb bus or
attacked by a mob and and dragged down with her
If only I mean you can hardly blame them, but they finally decide that the ride has to end, though,
to New Orleans instead, but even
proves to be quite difficult. The mob follows them. A damn thing
called and on their plane, and it seems that there are stuck in Alabama indefinitely. You can't get out of the Birmingham Airport, though, like we fed by this further
It is really have to get involved with this story all over the world papers and the poor beast
freedom, riders stuck in the airport, they can't let
he's got anywhere so John C and dollar, who is the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy? Arranged
the writers fly, it an escort them to New Orleans. There there met by state police at the plane who protect them, but also cursed them as they walk to the terminal, and that ends the right. It's over the Kennedy think that hopefully it's all over, they can get back to international pursuits,
it's not because there is another wave setting out from now.
Spell the students in the national student,
Met realise that they couldn't let course attempt
and their end in violence, and the like
if that movement, Diane NASH, who was a student in.
National Movement told a Birmingham, Reverend quote: if they stop us with violence, the movement is dead, fell thoroughly. Cliffhanger
Phyllis upside down. The next episode. We're gonna talk a little bit more about that national movement, as it picks up the baton in
Its continue in Alabama in Mississippi plays Hardball with its state penitentiary. So just two
give you a little teaser there that we're done with us here today. If you have any ideas to send us for podcast or any thoughts on this. When that you want to share where industry podcast house efforts, dot com- or you can pick us up on Facebook or on twitter at Mister History- and we also have an article about the civil rights me, what about we're gonna be recommending this one quite a bit in the next few up on freedom rights, but it is called how the civil rights movement worked and even find it by searching for civil right potter, Homepage, W W W Dot, housetop works, dot, com.
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