Why The Mugshots Of The Freedom Riders Exude Resilience

On May 4, 1961, a group of Black and white civil rights activists boarded two buses in Washington, D.C. and set out on a mission to end segregation in public transportation throughout the South. Although they faced jail and angry mobs, they remained steadfast and focused on their goal to challenge Jim Crow laws and pressure southern states to enforce the United States Supreme Court decision (which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional). As a result, segregation in transportation facilities were prohibited later that year. Check out the mugshots of a few of the nearly 450 Freedom Riders whose resilience and self-sacrifice helped bring national attention to segregation and racial violence endured by African Americans in the South. 

1. James Farmer: principal founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and organizer of the Freedom Rides of 1961

2. Catherine Burks: joined a Freedom Ride when she was a 21-year-old student at Tennessee State University 

3. John Lewis: civil rights leader and an original Freedom Rider 

4. Gwendolyn Greene: joined a Freedom Ride when she a 19-year-old student at Howard University

 5. James Bevel: minister, civil rights leader, and one of the original Freedom Riders 

6. Frances Wilson: joined a Freedom Ride when she was a 23-year-old student at Tennessee State University (Wilson was expelled from school because of her participation) 

7. Miller Green: joined the Freedom Ride movement when he was 18-year-old 

8. Kredelle Petway: joined a Freedom Ride when she was student at Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida

9. Hank Thomas: one of the original Freedom Riders 

10. Rita Carter: joined a Freedom Ride when she was an 18-year-student Oakland City College 

11. Jean Thompson: a member of New Orleans CORE and one of the original Freedom Riders 

12. Alphonso Petway: joined the Freedom Ride Movement when he was a student at Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida 

13. Ruby Doris Smith Robinson: a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a part of the field staff who participated in the Freedom Movement

14. Bernard Lafayette: one of the original Freedom Riders ; joined the Freedom Movement when he was a 20-year-old student Nashville's American Baptist Theological Seminary

15. Julia Aaron: one of the original Freedom Riders 

16. John Moody Jr.: one of the original Freedom Riders 

17. Shirley Thompson: joined the Freedom Ride Movement when she was an 18-year-old student at Carver High School in New Orleans, Louisiana 

18. Stokely Carmichael: joined the Freedom Ride Movement when he was 19-year-old student at Howard University


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