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Bus rider African American Female 2

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 5 months ago

Freedom Rides


Braden Young


"Grandma can we go downstairs and have a snack please."


"Once we’re halfway done with this attic. You go clean out that old trunk"


"Yes Grandma. Hey Grandma, why do you have a picture of you in front of a bus?"


"That was during the Freedom Rides."


"The Freedom what?"


"Freedom Rides"


"What are the Freedom Rides?"


"The Freedom Rides were an interracial group who boarded buses headed for the South. The whites would sit in the back and the blacks in the front. Because of segregation, blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. Only the whites were allowed to sit in the front. We were trying to change that, as well as other things blacks were prevented from doing. When we came to rest stops, the blacks would go to White Only sections and the whites would go into Black Only sections."




"Because we were trying to fight for equal rights. As you know, we used to be judged by our skin color.”


“That’s not fair!.”


“I know baby, and that’s why I was fighting for equal rights. We also did it because we wanted to test President Kennedy's commitment to Civil Rights.”


“Oh, so who was involved?”


“Whites and blacks who thought segregation was wrong and who were prepared for violence and possibly death. All we knew was there could be a lot of violence in the South and we had to be prepared.”


“So where did it happen?”


“Well child, it happened on a bus and we were going from Washington D.C. to New Orleans.”


“Grandma, when was this?”


“The Freedom Ride left Washington D.C. on May 4th, 1961. It was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17th, the 7th anniversary of the Brown decision. But the bus never made it to New Orleans.”


“What is the Brown decision?”


“The Brown decision declared segregation in schools illegal.”


“Do you mind telling me what happened during the Freedom Rides?"


“Well baby, it’s a long story.”


“I don’t care, I just want to hear it. Oh please, Grandma.”


“Alright child here's the story. As I said, we left D.C. on May 4th, 1961 and we were moving right along. Ten days later we split up into 2 groups to travel through Alabama. We knew there was going to be violence."


“What group were you in.?"


“I was on the second bus. Now where was I?”


“You just said that there was going to be violence.”


“Right, the first group met a mob of 200 angry people. The mob stoned the bus and slashed the tires. The bus got away, but when it got out of the city it was fire bombed. My bus met a mob in Birmingham and we were severely beaten.”


“Grandma YOU were beaten?”


“Yes I was.”


“Did it hurt?"


“Yes it did. But I was fighting for my equal rights. Um... so, we were severely beaten and there were no police there to help us."


“Oh Grandma, I’m so sorry.”


“Its o.k. baby. Despite the violence, we were determined to continue. The bus company did not want another bus to be bombed, and the bus drivers were all white and feared for their lives. After two days of hard arguing we got nowhere. So, we flew to New Orleans. Everyone thought the Freedom Rides were over. But then some Nashville sit-in students decided to go to Birmingham and continue the Freedom Rides.”


“So Grandma, right now during the story, you were in New Orleans?”


“No, I flew back to finish the Freedom Rides.”


“Oh, wow Grandma.”


“The Nashville students thought if the Freedom Rides had stopped as a result of violence, the future of the movement was going to be cut short. The impression would have been that whenever a movement starts all you would have to do is attack it with massive violence and it will go away. The students went to Birmingham and asked the bus company to use their buses. They also turned to the police for help. On May 17th the police “arrested” us. At 2 a.m. the police drove the bus to Tennessee. The police left us on the side of the road next to the borderline."


“So Grandma, did they really arrest you?”


“No, they just did that to help.”


“O.k., back to the story granny.”


“So, after we got to Tennessee, we got a ride to Nashville, 100 miles away. Then we went right back to Birmingham. We left Birmingham Saturday, May 20th. We had police protection for about 90 miles. But, once we reached Montgomery the police were gone. There was an angry mob waiting for us. We were all badly beaten. When the news of the attack reached Washington D.C., Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, who was also President Kennedy's brother, was not happy. He sent a Federal Marshal to the city. Martin Luther King flew to Montgomery and held a mass meeting surrounded by Federal Marshalls. As night fell, a mob of several thousand whites surrounded the church we were in. We could not leave safely. At 3 a.m., King called Robert Kennedy and Kennedy called Govenernor Patterson. Governor Patterson, sent State police and the National Guard. The mob left and we were able to leave safely. We decided to continue on to Mississippi. We had good protection and saw no mob. However, we ended up in jail in Mississippi. On May 25th, there was a trial and sadly we lost. We were sentenced to 60 days in the state penitentiary.”


“Why did you have to go to jail.”


“That’s what I’m telling you. We went to jail because... in Mississippi we walked into a white waiting room. We were arrested for trespassing.”


“So you never finished.”


“No, but after the ride, segragation on buses was outlawed.”


“So you got what you wanted?”


“Not everything, but it was a start. So baby, what is the lesson you learned from this story?”


“I learned that you should never give up no matter what.”


“That’s the lesson I wanted you to learn.”


“That’s what I learned. That was an amazing thing you did.”


“What did I do baby girl.”


“You fought for your freedom, and my freedom. Grandma I’m so proud of you. I love you.”


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