The U.S. Freedom Rides
In 1961 the U.S. civil rights movement was in its infancy. The federal government had declared it illegal to segregate public interstate travel facilities, but the law was widely ignored. Throughout the south bus and train stations remained segregated.
Requests for federal government enforcement of its own laws were ignored. President John Kennedy and Attorney-General Robert Kennedy failed to act.
In May 1961, The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) decided to tackle the issue head on. They planned to travel by bus from Washington DC to New Orleans. Riding through the heart of the south on Greyhound and Trailways buses an integrated group of civil rights activists would confront segregation.
Typically blacks would enter white only sections and whites would enter "coloured" areas. Initially there was only minor resistance, but on 15 May 1961a white mob forced the first of two buses carrying Freedom Riders off the road in a remote area of Alabama. The bus was fire bombed, the Freedom Riders pulled of the bus and beaten.