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Freedom Rides

During the spring of 1961, student activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) launched the Freedom Rides to challenge segregation on interstate buses and bus terminals. Traveling on buses from Washington, D.C., to Jackson, Mississippi, the riders met violent opposition in the Deep South, garnering extensive media attention and eventually forcing federal intervention from John F. Kennedy’s administration. Although the campaign succeeded in securing an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) ban on segregation in all facilities under their jurisdiction, the Freedom Rides fueled existing tensions between student activists and Martin Luther King, Jr., who publicly supported the riders, but did not participate in the campaign.

Jack, Homer Alexander

Social activist Homer Jack was an early supporter of the Montgomery bus boycott. He corresponded with Martin Luther King and visited Montgomery during March 1956 to gain first-hand information about the boycott. Afterward he sent a newsletter to his colleagues in the civil rights and peace community describing the movement: “The Gandhian flavor was not apparent at the beginning.… It grew naturally.” He concluded, “They have conducted a disciplined campaign which would, in many aspects, have made Mahatma Gandhi very proud” (Jack, 9 March 1956).


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