1947 April 9

The First Freedom Ride: Journey of Reconciliation Begins


The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organized the first civil rights “freedom ride” to challenge segregated bus transportation in the South, the Journey of Reconciliation. The two-week ride began on this day, was limited to states in the upper South, and involved eight African-American and eight white men. Women were not allowed to participate. The ride was inspired by the Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia on June 3, 1946, in which the Court held that racial segregation in interstate travel was unconstitutional. There were several arrests, but no violence. Ride planners deliberately avoided the Deep South, where they feared violence and where violence in fact occurred in the famous 1961 Freedom Ride.

The Journey of Reconciliation set a precedent for the famous 1961 “Freedom Ride” that began on May 4, 1961. Participants in the Journey of Reconciliation included Bayard Rustin (born March 17, 1912), who served as an organizer for the 1963 March on Washington (August 28, 1963), and Jim Peck, who was brutally beaten in the 1961 Freedom Ride on May 14, 1961.

Watch an interview with a Journey of Reconciliation participant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGOweTnzFhQ

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

Watch the dedication of a historical marker in Chapel Hill, NC commemorating the Journey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLls5jfdaTI

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