MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A special ceremony is planned Tuesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Freedom Rides, a movement that eventually ended segregation in interstate travel.
It was May 4, 1961, when the first Freedom Ride left Washington, DC. That CORE group of riders, CORE stands for Congress of Racial Equality, was headed to New Orleans. The group was attacked in Anniston and Birmingham before the Kennedy Administration got involved and flew them on to New Orleans.
Later in the month, 22 students, who were all younger than 22 years old, were attacked at the Montgomery greyhound bus station by hundreds of white people with weapons like bats, chains, bricks, and pipes.
To mark the anniversary, the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery will hold a ceremony and debut a restored Greyhound bus of the era that would have been in service during the Freedom Rides. The bus will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibit and a mobile extension of the museum’s exhibits, featuring a soundscape exhibit, interpretive banners, and a vintage suitcase exhibit.
“As we celebrate the arrival of the restored Greyhound Bus and its symbolic representation of the courage of the Freedom Riders, we also commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Rides and their impact on equal rights for all Americans,” said Alabama Historical Commission Chairman Eddie Griffith. “The Freedom Rides Museum has hosted past reunions of the Freedom Riders who gathered to share their stories, and we are honored again to have Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., return for this commemoration.”
The event also marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery. The museum is housed in the historic Greyhound Bus Station, where the Freedom Riders arrived on their journey for justice.
“The Freedom Rides Museum is an integral part of this important story,” said Lisa D. Jones, AHC Executive Director, and State Historic Preservation Officer. “History happened here. Preserving this place helps bring to life a critical part of the civil rights story and the role Montgomery and the state of Alabama played in it.”
That special anniversary ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday. The Freedom Rides Museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday noon to 4 p.m.