The Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Rides

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During the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans sought to have their Constitutional Rights permitted. One form of protesting came forth in the form of the Freedom Rides. After slavery ended, many amendments and laws were created to ensure the rights of African Americans, but because of prejudices and racism, most of these were ignored. The Supreme Court's decision in Plessy v. Fergunson established "separate but equal" on interstate transportation in 1896, but in 1947 the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. 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. . ." (Catsam 94). However the movement didn't stop there because ". . .students from the Nashville Movement, led by Diane Nash, realized that to allow violence to stop the Rides would send a message that would do incalculable harm to the movement" and the progression of the African American race (94). The students choose to continue t... ... middle of paper ... enforced. Olds wrote, "The Freedom Riders were an integrated group of highly motivated, well-disciplined, dedicated people" and the Rides were "effective as a demonstrations of strength, a source of leverage for influential coalitions, and a means for focusing public attention on the issue of civil rights" (18). Those involved single-handedly expanded the freedoms of all African-American citizens to travel throughout the United States. During the rides, the civil rights struggle reached a level of intensity that even sit-ins had managed to avoid" but though times were turbulent, the rides were effective, furthering the advancement of the African American people (Arsenault 3).. Through the most violent and fearsome events, the Freedom Riders stood firm to their cause which led them to be one of the most influential and effective parts of the Civil Rights Movement.
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