BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
The Freedom Rider were a collective of civil rights activists, who
In May 1961, ventured into the deep south, to challenge unconstitutional Jim Crow laws in the southern region of the United States.
On 1960 the Supreme Court’s decision in the Boynton vs. Virginia case, ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional, but the segregated South refused to comply with federal law and the federal government did very little to enforce their decision in the South.
The Freedom Riders risked not only their freedom, but their lives to challenge racist laws that did not allow mixed racial groups to sit together on interstate buses or trains in the South.
The violent reactions the Freedom Riders, received in southern states like Alabama, where the police allowed the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist mobs to brutalize civil rights activists, got nationwide attention and helped give the civil rights movement credibility.
On November 1, 1961, new policies went into effect, people were now allowed to sit where ever they pleased, regardless of race, while riding on interstate buses and trains. Also “White” and “Colored” signs were removed from terminals.
The legacy the Freedom Riders leave behind is they helped inspire future civil rights campaigns like Freedom Schools, the Black Power Movement and voter registration in the South.
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