Civil Rights. Freedom Riders. Sit-ins. ~ Volunteers, African American and white, rode in interstate buses into the segregated Southern US
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~ Volunteers, African American and white, rode in interstate buses into the segregated Southern US
~ They did this to test the 1960 United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia, which outlawed racial segregation in interstate transportation facilities, including bus stations and railroad terminals
~ A total of 436 Freedom Riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, violating state and local “Jim Crow” laws, etc.
~ The worst violence occurred when buses approached Birmingham, Alabama
~ Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor openly conspired with Ku Klux Klan members to beat and harass Freedom riders
~ In Anniston, Alabama, a bus was firebombed, forcing those Freedom Riders to exit, once they did, they were viciously beaten
~ Freedom Riders inspired many subsequent civil rights campaigns, including voter registration, freedom schools, and the black power movement
~ In 1962, James Meredith, an African American, tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi, but he was prevented from doing so by white students
~ Kennedy responded by sending some 400 federal marshals and 3000 troops to ensure that Meredith could enroll
~ Kennedy also assigned federal marshals to protect Freedom Riders
~ President Kennedy initially believed his views on civil rights would only anger many Southern whites and make it even more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress, which was dominated by Southern Democrats
~ As A result of him distancing himself from civil rights, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as unsupportive of their efforts
~ On June 11, 1963, Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop African American students from enrolling
~ Wallace moved aside after being confronted by federal marshals, and the Alabama National Guard
Civil Rights Act
August 28, 1963.