Highlights from Annual Membership Meeting – November 3, 2018
The Museum of Bus Transportation is proud to be able to provide this exhibit on THE FREEDOM RIDERS and how buses played an important role in the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The two buses in the display are actual models that were in use during this turbulent time in the United States. There were segregationists in the South who created rules about the use of Transportation Systems in the South. These rules included where one could ride on the bus, which restrooms to use, which waiting rooms to use, even which water fountains to use.
Groups of people from the North decided to test these rules and the Freedom Riders movement was started. One bus in particular left from the north and headed south. The bus was met by an angry mob at the bus station in Anniston, AL where tires were slashed and windows broken. Upon leaving Anniston, the bus was followed by the mob to a site just outside of town, where the driver stopped to change the tire. The crowd set the bus on fire and attacked the passengers as they departed. The incident served to strengthen the resolve for the civil rights movement.
Buses in American History
The Freedom Riders
The Museum of Bus Transportation is proud to present another exhibit on how buses played a role in American History. This exhibit is based on the Freedom Riders of 1961. Back in the late 1950s, and early 1960s, there were segregationists in some areas of the Southern States who felt that transportation systems needed to have separate seating and facilities. Once the Federal Government stated that these segregated systems were not legal, a small group of “Freedom Riders” traveled to the Southern States in an effort to test the new ruling. On May 14, 1961, this small group of riders on a Greyhound bus was attacked in Anniston, Alabama. When the pictures and coverage of that attack was published by the news media of the time, awareness arose, and many more “Freedom Riders” made their way South on various bus lines. After multiple attempts to push back these riders, eventually the transportation systems in the south did become desegregated.
For the opening of the Exhibit, Mr. W. Pete Conroy from Jacksonville State University, and who was one of those who were instrumental in establishing a Federal National Park in Anniston, AL was the Guest Speaker at the Museum’s Annual Membership meeting. His speech can be viewed by clicking here. In it, he includes a special recording of Mr. Hank Thomas. Mr. Thomas was one of the actual riders on that fateful May 14th day in 1961. Mr. Thomas provides a powerful first person narrative of his experiences that day.
You can see some of the posters that are exhibited in front of two buses that were the type used during those Freedom Rides. These posters, containing pictures and other information, provide a background of what happened in Anniston, AL. The exhibit is open to the public in the Museum of Bus Transportation from now through the end of February, 2019.
Today, the City of Anniston, AL is the home to one of the newest National Parks in the United States. The various areas in the city have plaques and murals explaining what took place in that area of the city. In fact, what you have been reading are copies are those plaques from Anniston. More will be taking place in the future as more work is done, but your help is welcome. Take a moment to visit their website “FreedomRidersPark.Org” and look at what is coming for the park. Your donations will help continue the work that has begun. One of the important locations is the former Greyhound Bus Terminal where the events of May 14, 1961 started.