First of all, the Freedom Rides didn't really change any laws. Segregation on public transportation was outlawed by the Supreme Court in Morgan v. Virginia & Boynton v. Virginia (Virginia was about that segregation life)
Secondly, it was a brilliant strategic move because the Freedom Riders weren't just black people.
1 interracial couple sitting together
1 black person sitting up front in the whites only section
Others scattered throughout the bus
1 person sitting in back abiding by the white supremacist segregation rules.
They would lock people up for "disturbing the peace" and other made-up rules.
Plus, nothing makes a racist madder than seeing a white & Black unity. I don't know if you know this, but "once you go black...
You might get your skull cracked"
The person stationed in the back abiding to the rules was supposed to call the Congress of Racial Equality in case the shit hit the fan.
Shit always hit the fan.
(Back then, 86% of fans were involved in shit-hitting episodes)
With the Ku Klux Klan.
Klansmen threw a Molotov cocktail on the bus, and when the Freedom riders ran out, a mob of local white people was waiting
But then a superhero did some G shit.
First, you should know the man who I believe was the blackest, bravest civil rights hero of all time — Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
When MLK wrote the infamous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Shuttlesworth was his cellmate.
The KKK bombed Fred Shuttlesworth's home...
He helped organize the March on Washington, the Children's Crusade & the Selma March
He told MLK:
Fred wasn't with that bullshit.
No, I'm not using current slang.
He left Birmingham and LITERALLY pulled up to the hospital with an ARMED CONVOY of foot soldiers led by a black Army colonel and dared the white mob to do something.
It was Mothers Day. Fred protected the bus along the way to the next stop in Birmingham, where the cops & KKK were once again waiting.
Meanwhile, the police commissioner offered his protection...
To the KKK.
It was so bad that the president of the United States, JFK, had to call in the National Guard.
Then they headed for Jackson, Mississippi
They raised the money to get 300 ppl out of jail.
There are no reports about it, but I am willing to bet that Mississippi macaroni and Cheese was SLAMMING.
Then something crazy happened.
All across the country, people started forming their own version of Freedom Rides. They boarded buses. They sat down in segregated restaurants. They protested.
But one of the other Freedom Riders was known for not taking any shit
When he was in Alabama, he hooked up with John Lewis and Shuttlesworth to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches where police attacked and beat up protesters.
Finally, this guy was tired of white liberals and police
The LCFO eventually merged with the Democratic Party
But let's get back to the Freedom Rides.
The Freedom Riders weren't just Black. There were white people, too, including a guy named John C. Raines.
Raines was a minister who was asked to join the Freedom Rides. He even met Stokely Carmichael
All 3 believed that racism would never end unless white people did something to end it
He always wondered how the white supremacists knew about the Freedom Riders. Carmichael and Hampton always said the FBI was involved, which sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory.
So John Raines did something.
They stole a bunch of FBI documents and released them to the press.
When Carmichael organized the Selma to Montgomery march, a white woman named Viola Luizzo saw the violence decided to help.
That's when a group of Klansmen saw her with a 19-year-old black man in the car and opened fire, killing her.
One of the killers was an FBI informant
But here's where it gets more interesting. This is NOT ABOUT HISTORY
Art Hanes, Mayor
JT Waggoner Public Works Commissioner
Now, why is this important if it happened so long ago?
Well, many people wonder why Alabama is so racist.
Here is where history gets real close
Connor, Waggoner and Hanes were so racist that they sued the NY Times for libel for saying they "stood watch" while the KKK attacked black people in the city
One state representative was enthusiastic about all the segregation laws
That guy is still one of the most powerful politicians in Ala. even though he's not a state Rep. anymore.
He remembers the Freedom Rides. He didn't read about it them in history books. He wasn't a kid when they happened. He was 24 years old during the Freedom Rides.
His dad was in politics, too.
Chambliss would eventually earn the nickname Dynamite Bob and become famous for bombing the 16th St. Baptist Church.
Whose administration collaborated with the man who killed Violla Luizzo.
Son of the Bull Connor's segregation teammate.
He was 28 when Viola Luizzo was killed.
Of course, he could have disavowed his father's white supremacy. Maybe he's just a staunch conservative who isn't a white supremacist.