On this day in Alabama history: Freedom Riders arrested in Birmingham

On this day in Alabama history: Freedom Riders arrested in Birmingham
National Guard troops protect a Trailways bus carrying Freedom Riders on Highway 80 near Cuba, Sumter County. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of The Birmingham News, photograph by Norman Dean)

May 17, 1961

The 1961 Freedom Rides were public bus trips undertaken by racially integrated groups through the Deep South to test the enforcement of a new court order prohibiting segregation in interstate bus terminals. The riders were met with hostility and violence in several states, especially in Alabama. On May 17, the group, including future Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, reached Birmingham, where they were taken into custody allegedly for their protection. However, they were released that same evening in a remote area known for Klan activity near the Alabama-Tennessee border.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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