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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Montgomery in Montgomery County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Civil Rights Freedom Riders

Montgomery, Alabama

 
 
The Freedom Rides marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
1. The Freedom Rides marker
Inscription.  
The Freedom Rides
It was a ride meant to awaken the heart of America to the injustice of its own laws and traditions.
Freedom Rider John Lewis

The 1961 Freedom Riders did not begin or end their journey in Montgomery, Alabama. But their arrival here changed this city and our nation. The Rides marked a turning point in the civil rights movement, with its many known and unknown heroes, who sought to end unfair laws that treated people differently based on their race. African-Americans had protested this treatment since the founding of nation. During the 1950s and '60s, our their efforts won them the right to vote and the right to equal access to public education, public transportation and public places.

The 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had established nonviolent protest as a protest as a guiding principle of the movement. During the boycott, which went on for more than a year, thousands of African-Americans refused to ride city buses until federal courts ordered the end of racial segregation on

The Plan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
2. The Plan Marker
Montgomery city bus lines. Yet five years later people traveling in Alabama and much of the South still had to endure segregated bus, train and airport terminals, well as segregated seating on in-state highway bus and train trips.

The Freedom Riders sought to end this injustice.

The Plan
Interstate passengers have...a right to expect that...service would be rendered without discrimination, as prohibited in the Interstate Commerce Act.
U.S. Supreme Court decision, Boynton v. Virginia, December 1960

The 1961 Freedom Riders had a simple plan. Teams of black and white people would travel on regularly scheduled buses from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, sitting together on buses and in waiting rooms and eating together in bus station restaurants.

The goal was to compel the U.S. government to enforce Supreme Court decisions outlawing segregated transportation seating and facilities. In the South, local laws and customs required segregated bus seating, as well as separate restaurants and waiting rooms for "colored" and "white" people. In some places there were no restrooms or restaurants for “colored" passengers.

Sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), 13 Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C., on May 4. Ten days later they met Ku Klux Klan-led resistance in Alabama. The vicious attacks

The Nashville Students Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
3. The Nashville Students Marker
in the Alabama cities of Birmingham and Anniston led CORE to abandon the bus ride and complete the journey from Birmingham to New Orleans by plane.


The Nashville Students
If not us, then who? If not now, then when?... Will someone else's children have to risk their lives instead of us risking ours?
Freedom Rider John Lewis

In Nashville, peaceful sit-ins by university students had just won fair treatment for African-Americans in the city's stores, restaurants and theaters. At first the students had not been sure nonviolence would work. But it had. Their mentor, James Lawson, had trained them to turn the other cheek when they were slapped or called names for being in “whites only" places.

When the sit-in veterans learned the CORE Freedom Ride had been derailed, they vowed to continue it. “If they stop us with violence, the movement is dead" student leader Diane Nash argued. They had little support from the civil rights establishment and none from the U.S. government.

"We know that we may be killed. We are more aware of that than you can imagine," Nash said. They wrote farewell letters and wills, then made their way to Birmingham. Three days later, on May 20, they boarded a Greyhound bus to Montgomery.
 
Erected by the Alabama Historical

List of Freedom Riders image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
4. List of Freedom Riders
The 20 Freedom Riders who arrived in Montgomery by bus on the morning of May 20, 1961, were joined by William Barbee, who came in advance by car.
Commission.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil Rights.
 
Location. 32° 22.474′ N, 86° 18.542′ W. Marker is in Montgomery, Alabama, in Montgomery County. Marker is on South Court Street south of Adams Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 210 S Court St, Montgomery AL 36104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Civil Rights Freedom Riders (a few steps from this marker); Lomax House, 1848 (within shouting distance of this marker); Ladies Memorial Association (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Federal Building and US Courthouse (about 300 feet away); Montgomery County World War II Monument (about 400 feet away); Korean War (about 400 feet away); First Baptist Church (about 600 feet away); Montgomery County Korean War Veterans (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montgomery.
 
More about this marker. Photos show some of the Freedom Riders & Civil Rights Leaders and information.
 
Also see . . .  The Freedom Rides Museum website. (Submitted on January 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Marker located to extreme left of former Greyhound Bus Terminal. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
5. Marker located to extreme left of former Greyhound Bus Terminal.
Now the Freedom Rides Museum
Wide shot of these markers. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
6. Wide shot of these markers.
Civil Rights Freedom Riders Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, July 18, 2020
7. Civil Rights Freedom Riders Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 53 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on January 6, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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Feb. 27, 2021