Mother’s Day 1961: The Freedom Rides in Alabama

Presented by Laura Anderson, M.A., C.A., archivist at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

On Sunday, May 14, 1961, two groups of passengers boarded buses in Atlanta for separate trips to Birmingham. One group rode Greyhound, the other Trailways. The passengers—male and female, black and white, students and retirees—were known collectively as “Freedom Riders,” and they rode to test Southern states’ compliance with federal interstate transportation laws. The extreme violence they encountered in Alabama catapulted the Freedom Riders’ story into the national consciousness and cemented Alabama’s reputation as a hotbed of resistance to social change. Who were the so-called Freedom Riders? Why did they participate in such a dangerous mission? And what did they accomplish? Using images of the burning of the Freedom Riders’ bus outside Anniston on Mother’s Day 1961—images from a collection housed in the Archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)—along with oral history interviews with persons involved in the Freedom Rides, this presentation offers a look at the participants and supporters who risked their lives in an effort to bring about Alabama’s compliance with federal law. In addition, the presentation will consider the roles of violence, the media and law enforcement in the civil rights movement.

This presentation requires a screen and a digital projector.

Contact Laura Anderson to book this presentation:
(205) 328-9696, ext. 215