1961 November 11

CORE “Freedom Motorcade” in Maryland Cancelled


Restaurants on Route 40 in Maryland had been discriminating against African diplomats, most of whom were representing newly independent countries, and who were driving to Washington, D.C., after flying into New York City. In 1961 there was no federal law and no Maryland law barring discrimination in public accommodations. (That would not end until the 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.) The incidents were enormously embarrassing to the Kennedy administration. Maryland officials apologized to African diplomats on July 11, 1961.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) planned a massive “Freedom Motorcade” for this day to protest the discrimination, but most of the restaurants voluntarily agreed to integrate three days before the planned event, and the motorcade was cancelled.

CORE was founded on March 9, 1942. It burst into national prominence earlier in the year on May 4, 1961  by organizing the famous Freedom Ride, which challenged segregation in interstate bus travel. The Freedom Ride is one of the most famous events in the history of the civil rights movement.

Read original documents about the Freedom Motorcade: http://www.crmvet.org/docs/core-rt40.pdf

And additional materials:  http://www.crmvet.org/docs/621109_core_rt40_release.pdf

Read about the history of CORE: August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, CORE: A Study in the Civil Rights Movement, 1942–1968 (1973)

Learn more about the Route 40 crisis: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/cores-route-40-project-maryland-campaign-desegregation-and-us-civil-rights-1961

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