In Partnership with Cambridge College, 2022
Banner Art detail: Hakim Raquib, "Anniston freedom fighters' bus burning"
Freedom Riders in six months during 1961 changed America forever.
From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws in order to test and challenge a segregated interstate travel system.
The Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, testing their belief in nonviolent activism. May 14, 1961; on this Mother’s Day, a group of Freedom Riders traveling from Washington D.C., to New Orleans were met by a white mob in Anniston, Alabama. The mob attacked the bus with baseball bats and iron pipes. They slashed the bus tires. When the bus pulled over, the mob pulled the riders off the bus and beat them with pipes. Then they set the bus on fire.
Last year in 2021, I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. The Museum has that bus! What was left of it. I photographed the carcass. The men and women on that bus inspired this small body of works. The Freedom Riders!!! They are unsung heroes, who risked everything to retain and preserve their constitutional rights. I feel the Freedom Riders and the effort they put forth to make change is the most significant and revolutionary act throughout the civil rights movement, "Good Trouble."
The Black smoke filling the sky from that burning Greyhound bus...became an unforgettable image of the Civil Rights Movement.