1983 December 9

FBI Ordered to Pay Jim Peck, Freedom Rider, $25,000


Jim Peck was a pacifist and civil rights activist. A participant in the 1961 Freedom Rides (May 4, 1961), he was savagely beaten by racists in Anniston, Alabama on May 14, 1961. It was later revealed that the FBI knew in advance of the plan to attack the Freedom Riders but did nothing to prevent the attack. Peck sued and, on this day, the FBI was ordered to pay him $25,000 in damages.

Jim Peck had been a conscientious objector during World War II and was sentenced to prison for refusing to cooperate with the draft. While in Danbury prison, he and other COs staged a hunger strike in protest of racial segregation in the prison (August 11, 1943; December 23, 1943). In 1947 he was a participant in the first freedom ride to desegregate bus transportation in the Deep South, the Journey of Reconciliation (April 9, 1947). He holds the distinction of being the only person to participate in both the 1947 and 1961 freedom rides.

Read: James Peck, Freedom Ride (1962)

Watch an interview of the injured Jim Peck in 1961: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CuhV14w4pg

Read James Peck’s autobiography: James Peck, Underdogs and Upperdogs (1969)

Read about the Freedom Ride: Ray Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (2006)

Learn more about race and the FBI: Kenneth O’Reilly, Racial Matters: The FBI’s Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972 (1989)

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