On May 4, 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) staged its first “Freedom Ride” out of Washington, D.C., through the Deep South in an effort to challenge racial segregation.
Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1960 to integrate interstate travel, strong opposition against integration remained in the South. The thirteen Freedom Riders, seven Black and six white activists, rode two buses bound for New Orleans, testing the enforcement of the Supreme Court ruling and challenging the segregationist policies of the region.
Along the way, they faced mob violence, arrests, and imprisonment. In Alabama, one of the buses was firebombed by a white supremacist mob.
On May 20, 1961, the Freedom Riders arrived in New Orleans. Their journey had lasted just sixteen days, but it had a profound impact on the civil rights movement.
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