The Freedom Riders for Civil Rights, Half a Century Later (LIFE Photos)

The Atlantic
May 4, 2011

Fifty years ago today on May 4, 1961, the first bus of Freedom Riders, carrying 13 people — both black and white — set out from Washington, D.C. for New Orleans. The fight for civil rights became powerfully embodied in the struggle of these riders, men and women who took to America’s interstate buses to challenge the racial segregation that had become institutionalized in so much of the South. Among the challenges they faced were a mob of 3,000 angry white people in Montgomery, Alabama and an attorney general (Robert Kennedy) reluctant to enforce the Supreme Court’s 1960 ban on racial discrimination. Their determination–on display throughout the spring and summer of 1961–pushed the civil rights movement (and 32-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) into the national consciousness….Read More

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