Voices of the Freedom Riders – 60th Anniversary
BY THE OBAMA FOUNDATION
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, we spoke with veterans of the movement, as well as author Eric Etheridge, whose book Breach of Peace features a photo-history of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders and offers a window into what it felt like to live through this pivotal moment in history.
Below you’ll find that Q&A, along with excerpts from our conversations with the Freedom Riders themselves. But to understand their story and their impact, it’s worth revisiting just how extraordinary their journey was.
On May 4, 1961, 13 passengers boarded two buses in Washington D.C. ticketed to arrive 13 days and 1,500 miles later in New Orleans. It was a diverse group: seven Black and six white; three women and 10 men; with backgrounds that included a World War II Navy captain, a former stockbroker, a preacher, and a 21-year-old seminary student named John Lewis, on the cusp of graduation. There was little press coverage of their departure from Washington. But in the weeks and months that followed, those riders and their reinforcements would capture the attention of the world. FOR MORE
Public Domain Photo: John Lewis