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Eyes on the Prize
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Alabama: Anti-Freedom Rider Mobs (1961)

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"Freedom Riders" sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality, gather outside burning bus in Anniston, Alabama, 1961.

Angry crowds greeted the Freedom Riders in Alabama on May 14, 1961. The integrated Greyhound buses carrying both black and white members of the Congress of Racial Equality had traveled from Washington, D.C. with only minor incidents. But on Mother's Day, when the buses entered Alabama, the first bus was stoned, tires were slashed and a firebomb destroyed the vehicle. The second bus was met by another mob in Birmingham and one rider was paralyzed in the ensuing violence. The bus company did not want to risk continuing the ride and the original Freedom Riders traveled home by air. A second group of Freedom Riders took up the ride, however, and again were met by mob violence in Montgomery. The incidents forced the Kennedy administration to confront state leaders about enforcing federal laws against segregation.

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