This documentary, “The Freedom Riders” shows the story of courageous civil rights activists called ‘Freedom Riders’ in 1961 who confronted institutionalized and culturally-accepted segregation in the American South by travelling around the Deep South on buses and trains. This documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice”. It was a radical idea organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) that alarmed not only those who challenged the civil rights but also deliberately defied Jim Crows Law that were enacted between 1876 and 1965, by challenging the status quo by riding the interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups. This law segregated public services like public transportation, public places, public schools, restrooms, restaurants, and even drinking fountains for black and whites. Though these activists were faced by various bitter racism, mob violence and imprisonment, they were successful in desegregating the buses and bus facilities in the Deep South in September 22, 1961.
And although segregation was outlawed, Jim Crow laws still ruled the Deep South and “codified in law, sanctioned by the courts, and enforced by the ubiquitous threat of physical violence even more than legal reprisal" (Catsam 87). The Jim Crow laws drastically affected the public transportation systems of the South. The Congress of Racial Equality challenged the unfair laws with Freedom Rides, which "arose out of the need to end segregation at lunch counters, in bus terminals, as well as in other facilities essential to the intercity traveler" (Olds 17-18). The first freedom ride commenced in Washington, DC, in 1961.Because the first Freedom Riders were from the North, they didn't realize how harsh the racist South was and “violence in Anniston and Birmingham, Alabama, would prove to be too much for the first group of freedom riders, who ended up flying from Birmingham to New Orleans. .
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, segregation in the United States was commonly practiced in many of the Southern and Border States. This segregation while supposed to be separate but equal, was hardly that. Blacks in the South were discriminated against repeatedly while laws did nothing to protect their individual rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ridded the nation of this legal segregation and cleared a path towards equality and integration. The passage of this Act, while forever altering the relationship between blacks and whites, remains as one of history’s greatest political battles.
Though the boycott ended when the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation unconstitutional, this was not directly caused by the refusal to ride buses, and thus cannot be defined as the primary triumph of the boycott. Instead, the Montgomery Bus Boycott succeeded in changing the consciousness of millions of Americans, specifically southern blacks. A revolution of the mind was the greatest success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and this transformation occurred due to the small validations throughout the boycott that African Americans, as unified, free citizens, had power. The legality of racial segregation was the result of a deeply flawed belief held by the majority of Americans that blacks were inherently inferior and would never be treated the same as whites. African Americans had been regarded as property for centuries prior to the Civil Rights Movement, and that mindset had to be changed for the creation of new laws or abolition of old laws to have any ... ... middle of paper ... ...ment proves their arrogance remains, it is clear that their confidence is waning.
Even though it was supposed to be “separate but equal”, that did not apply in many cases. “The spark that ignited a movement” (Sonia Benson, Daniel E. Brannen Jr., Rebecca Valentine) was the Brown v. Board of Education court case when black students tried to attend an all-white school and had to be protected by the police from the white mob. Really common way of protest were sit-ins and boycotts. The most famous one is probably the bus boycott in Montgomery where Rosa Parks was arrested because she refused to give her seat to a white man. The boycott, which was led by Martin Luther King resulted in the Supreme Court overturning the city´s law as far as bus segregation is concerned.
The Topeka Board Of Education”, the argument was about which school Linda brown should go to. Her father thought it was wrong that she should go to a school for black children that was further away from her home and less well looked after than nearby schools for white children. With the help of the NAACP he took his case to the Supreme Court and they ruled in his favour, overruling the 1896 case of “Plessey vs. The Rail Road Company”. Segregation was now officially illegal.
Ever wondered how segregation was abolished and African-Americans truly gained their liberty? Well, there were several significant people including Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Thurgood Marshall who made a tremendous difference in the movement. Their morals and values were that one day people could look at each other the same and not see color, but rather a human being. They put these values out on display in their courageous actions such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the “I Have a Dream” speech, which set the path for our great country even today. Therefore, the Civil Rights movement was an important event for the African-American community dues to the fact that is marked the end of segregation, uplifted African-Americans, and United States history forever.
In 1962, director of the Congress of Racial Equality, James Farmer and fellow CORE leader Bayard Rustin, resurrected an earlier strategy from the late 1940s that called for blacks to ride segregated trains and buses during interstate travel in the upper South. The earlier protest on wheels had failed miserably when the riders were arrested in North Carolina, convicted, and given month-long sentences doing chain-gang labor. This time, the protesters hoped that they would receive greater support from the federal government and the Justice Department. As the sit-in movement had relied on direct confrontation, so would the Freedom Riders. The group/s approach involved both blacks and whites—The white Freedom Riders would take seats in the back of buses, and black participants would sit in the front, a two-way violation of bus company policy.
The author of the Newsweek article stated this as the Southern opinion of the reason for the Freedom Riders. The Southern opposition, inadvertently proving the Freedom Riders' point, made sure that most of the rides ended in violence. A U.S. Supreme Court decision, made in December 1960, stated that “Interstate passengers have … a right to expect that ... service would be rendered without discrimination, as prohibited by the Interstate Commerce Act” ('Freedom Riders' 18). This law was geared towards integration on public transportation. To get around this statement, the Alabama police charged those who tried to fight segregation standards with “disturbing the peace.” The Alabama police considered disturbing the peace to be “any person who disturbs the peace of others by violent, profane, indecent, offensive, or boisterous conduct calculated to provoke a breach of the peace shall be guilty of a misdemeanor” ('Freedom Riders' 18).
The question at hand is what role did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. play in the Montgomery Bus Boycott? Dr. King fought for civil equality dealing with the segregation of public buses by defying the Jim Crow Laws, helped create the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and created motivation for black people to oppress white ruling in the south in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After the Civil War, America was in a time of separation and segregation due to the southern state’s Jim Crow Laws. “Jim Crow laws restricted the rights of black people and kept them segregated from whites… On buses they had to sit at the rear and had to give up their seat whenever a white rider was left standing.” These Jim Crow laws caused Americans to be divided in the most superficial way possible: by the color of your skin. These laws existed for many years after the abolition of slavery.