Freedom Riders

On May 14, 1961 near Anniston, Alabama, a bus carrying Freedom Riders was firebombed. While there were many Freedom Rides prior to this one, the exhibit focuses on this particular tragic event. Visitors enter a reconstruction of the same Greyhound Bus that Freedom Riders rode that day and are immersed by oral histories from the Riders, as well as a short film inside of the bus.

Even though federal courts in 1960 had outlawed segregation on interstate travel, many Southern states simply ignored the rulings. A band of young men and women, many of them trained veterans of the sit-ins and other nonviolent protests, took it upon themselves to act. They began boarding buses in May 1961, pressuring the federal government to enforce existing laws. Uncertain of their fate, many had written their last letters to family and friends in case they were killed.