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The Significance of the Freedom Riders

The freedom riders were a group of volunteers who embarked on a journey toward freedom. Their movement proved to be significant toward the civil rights era, transforming itself from just a few people, to a vast amount of headstrong participants.

“With the Freedom Rides, the civil rights struggle reached a level of intensity that even the sit-ins had managed to avoid” (Arsenault 3). The Freedom Riders were a nonviolent movement that started in 1947 and received public attention in 1961. Black and white people alike, young and old, joined in the struggle to protest the old Jim Crow laws by sitting together on segregated buses. The Freedom Riders had a positive impact on the civil rights movement because they displayed unwavering courage in their endeavor, they devotedly endured for blacks’ rights, and they were an important contribution in enforcing desegregation in transportation.

The Freedom Riders were successful because of the remarkable courage that carried them through in their journey. In the midst of so much violence and opposition, the Freedom Riders courageously pressed forward for the cause they were fighting for. Under the most fearsome and grotesque events, they stood firm. One violent act that occurred was when the Freedom Riders arrived at Anniston, Alabama.

There they were confronted by a mob of over one hundred people, including some members of the Ku Klux Klan. The bus was firebombed and the passengers were beat by the immense crowd. The Freedom Riders were forced to retreat back to New Orleans, their starting point, but a second bus left Tennessee on another freedom ride shortly after. These Freedom Riders were also struck by mobs upon reaching Birmingham and sent to prison. Even though their lives were at stake, they did not falter because they were prepared to die. The bravery manifested in their effort for civil rights served to inspire others and the movement steadily grew. Persistence and commitment was their driving force in their struggle for racial justice.

The Freedom Riders had devotion for their cause and endured tribulations. Blacks and whites made a strong statement in intermingling with each other on buses in their stand against racial prejudice. They simply would sit together despite any force and violence that threatened their lives. The people were beaten and jailed, enduring brutal treatment. At the Parchman jail, they suffered under harsh conditions but nevertheless continued to sing “freedom songs” from their cell, even when they were hurt further for refusing to stop singing.

Others went on hunger strikes, still holding on to their strong moral resolution despite their deterioration. The methods the Freedom Riders used were purely nonviolent and the police also proved to be against them. Despite such a heavy strain on them, the Freedom Riders did not collapse. The Freedom Riders had resolved to persevere without limits for as long as segregation was still an existing factor (Arsenault 341).

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