As State lawmakers from around the country converged in Atlanta to announce an alliance to combat restrictive voting laws that have proliferated in recent years, Jesse Jackson Jr. was being sentenced to 30 months for his fraud conviction.
Jackson the son of Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson Sr. pled guilty to one count of fraud. Under sentencing guidelines, he faced 46 to 60 months in prison. Keeping their word, prosecutors recommended that he serve four years in prison and placed on supervised release for three years. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was not bound by the guideline range. Nor was she bound by the prosecutor’s recommendation. The maximum penalty for the offense is five years in prison, plus three years of supervised release. Jackson has also agreed to pay a money-judgment forfeiture of $750,000. He also faced a fine of $10,000 to $100,000 under the guidelines.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson was appointed as a United States District Judge in March of 2011. Prior to joining the Court, she was engaged in private practice in Washington, D.C. as a member of Trout Cacheris, where she specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals. One of those complex criminal cases was the representation of former Rep. William Jefferson a nine-term New Orleans Democrat, in his 2009 corruption trial. The Virginia jury convicted him on 11 of 16 charges, and he’s serving 13 years in prison.
Jackson himself a former member of U.S. House Of Representatives used $750,000.00 of campaign funds to purchase an array of personal items that included a Rolex watch, a mink cape, and Bruce Lee memorabilia.
Jackson’s wife, Sandra, was also sentenced to one year in prison and was ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution, after pleading guilty to a related charge of filing false tax returns. Jackson also had to resign from Congress.
Stating that there was a time when members of Congress could treat their campaign funds as retirement accounts, Jackson’s defense attorney, asked for an 18-month sentence.
The prosecution argued to the contrary stating that it is one of the most significant abuses of the campaign system that has ever been documented and prosecuted. The government asked for four years in prison. “Jesse Jackson Jr.’s journey from the halls of Congress to federal prison is a tragedy of his own making,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen said in a statement. “Jackson’s political potential was unlimited, but he instead chose to treat his campaign account as a personal slush fund, stealing from the people who believed in him so he could live extravagantly. He squandered his great capacity for public service through outright theft. The prison sentence imposed today should serve as a wake-up call to other public officials who believe there are no consequences for betraying the public trust.” The government asked for four years in prison.
Ronald Machen who is black is correct in his assessment of Junior. Jackson’s behavior is an affront to the civil rights movement. During that movement, many lost their lives to engage in the right to vote. Further in a few weeks, we will celebrating the 50th Anniversary on the March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a mentor to Junior’s father recited his famous “ I Have A Dream” Speech. Dr. King’s dream was not to have black elected official to use their political power to commit criminal acts that erodes the confidence of public trust. At a time when the minorities’ right to vote is threatened by restrictive voter ID laws and a Supreme Court ruling that sets aside a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, Jackson’s political power could have been used in a more positive way. The campaign funds would have been better spent on a re-election platform advocating a fair and balanced voter rights act than Bruce Lee memorabilia. Leading the Congress to equitable law preventing states from acting in any way to disenfranchise the minority vote would have paid tribute to the lives lost in the movement.
Further as blacks are moved out of their communities and scattered throughout the county, the people of color will also find it hard to be elected. Blacks will be without black representation in Federal, State and local governments. Showing some leadership on the matter certainly would help his constituents as well as Jackson the politician as the Supreme Court makes a concentrated effort of increasing state rights and limiting Federal rights as it pertains to individual rights.
U.S. District Judge Jackson said the Jacksons used the campaign funds as a “personal piggybank,” but she was confident that “there will be another chapter” for Jackson Jr. After acknowledging that Jackson did not pose a threat to society, Judge Jackson then opened the page to that new chapter entitled Jesse Jackson Jr. the Deterrent. “The ethical standard has got to be simply higher than unindicted,” she said. The Judge also ruled out probation stating that she would have trouble explaining a probation sentence to the donors whose campaigns funds the couple misused.
The Judge felt a significant jail sentence was necessary to serve as a deterrent to other politicians who might consider raiding their campaign coffers for personal gain. The four years recommended by the prosecution certainly would have been significant, but the Judge apparently felt that 2 ½ years would be significant enough.
Jackson’s wife will commence serving her 1 year a month after Jackson is released.
Ann Romney exclaims in the interview above that she hear the voices of women. Maybe so, but is she listening? If she is listening, it’s selective. How else can it be explain that Mrs. Romney who has survived breast cancer and is now living with Multiple Sclerosis thinks that the election for women is about the economy and jobs.
Has Ann Romney heard the voice of Stacy Lihn whose daughter was born with a congenital heart effect.
Stacy Lihn from Phoenix, Arizona doesn’t quite agree with Mrs. Romney. Stacy’s precious daughter Zoe was born with a congenital heart defect. Zoe has had several surgeries starting at the age of 15 months and was about to approach the health care insurer’s lifetime cap when The Affordable Care Act came into existence. The act eliminates lifetime caps.
Obamacare is the name given to the Affordable Care Act passed in President Obama’s first term by some republican opponents of the act. Portraying themselves as Good Fellas, the Romney/Ryan team claims that the act which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court is bad for America’s economy.According to the Goodfellas, the act which mandates t companies to provide health care has a negative impact on small businesses ability to hire employees. They further claim that instead of reducing premiums, the act actually has driven them higher, thus adding to the multi-trillion dollars national debt.
Other than a claim from Papa John’s Pizza, there exist no evidence to the negative impact allegations as well as the other allegations that can be considered as credible. As a matter of fact, the Papa John scenerio highlights the absurdity of the Goodfellas campaign contentions.
John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, and also a supporter and fundraiser for Mitt Romney announced that the Affordable Care Act will raise the cost of his pizza 11 to 14 cents each, or 15 to 20 cents per order.
Companies employing more than 50 employees are required to provide affordable health insurance.
Papa John’s which is the third-largest pizza takeout and delivery chain in the United States, will have to offer health care coverage to its 16,500 total employees or pay a penalty to the government.
“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry,” Schnatter was quoted as saying in Politico. “But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare.” In other words, the pizza company can and will pass this cost down to it’s customers.
However, One Papa John’s franchise owner in Texas, Judy Nichols, appears to not know or understand this business concept. Nichols says the law could not would but could interfere with her ability to open more restaurants.
“I have two options, I can stop offering coverage and pay the $2,000 fine, or I could keep my number of staff under 50 so the mandate doesn’t apply,” she told Legal Newsline. Nichols added that the law may, not will but may, cost her between $20,000 to $30,000 extra in taxes. “Obamacare is making me think about cutting jobs instead,” she said. Hey Judy, your other option is to pass the cost down to the customer.
As a result of such rhetorical speculation the Goodfellas are promising the following: “On Day One, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that will allow states to opt out Obamacare’s onerous requirements. He will then work to completely repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform that strengthens the health-care system and gives states the flexibility to develop the right solutions for the challenges they face.”
The Goodfellas bottom line approach to governing when it comes to healthcare will not have a negative impact on them. They have resources to cover any healthcare crisis and will not he hampered with a lifetime cap. In the case of Paul Ryan, the tax payer picks up his Cadillac healthcare plan. It will however have a negative impact on others without the financial means to cover health cost.
Like many others the Lihns don’t possess the financial wealth of the Goodfellas. All they know is that Obamacare has eliminated the lifetime cap, allowing the Lihn’s to continue to
afford the care for Zoe.
The Lihns know that they can count on Obama because he not only hears their voices, but he is listening. President Obama cares.
Romney’s promise to repeal the act makes it certain that many Americans will not receive health care that may save either their lives or life of a love one. Therefore. repealing The Affordable Care Act is something that the Lihn’s and many other similarly situated Americans can’t afford.
If it means increasing the life expectancy as well as the quality of life for Zoe and others who are similarly situated, I don’t think many would object to paying 20 cents more for a Papa John’s pizza.
Ann Romney may hear women’s voices, but is she listening to Stacy Lihn’s story?
Take a listen to Stacy story below and let us know if you think Ann Romney and the Goodfellas are really listening.
Also make sure you’re registered and ready to vote on November 6, 2012. Reach out to register someone and get them to the polls. Your vote, your voice may save a life.
On February 26, 1939, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fired off a letter to Mrs. Henry Martyn Robert Jr., the President General of the DAR. Mrs. Roosevelt was resigning from the organization as a result of their refusal to permit Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall, a concert hall owned and operated by the DAR.
One of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century, Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto. Anderson was born on February 27, 1897, nine months after the U.S. Supreme court handed down its’ separate but equal ruling in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson.
The National Society of DAR The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a lineage-based membership organization for women who are descended from a person involved in United States’ independence. It was incorporated by a congressional charter in the same year as the Plessy decision.
In response to the First Lady’ letter of resignation, Sarah Corbin Robert wrote “I am indeed sorry not to have been in Washington at this time. Perhaps I might have been able to remove some of the misunderstanding and to have presented to you personally the attitude of the Society”.
That attitude of the Society was now the law of the land thanks to the Plessy decision. How ever that attitude was not embraced by Robert’s father in law General Henry Martyn Robert Sr. General Robert, the author of Robert Rules of Parlimentary Procedure was born and raised in Robertville, S.C. a place he left because he despised slavery. It was probably not embraced by Clement Corbin, Mrs. Robert’ great great grandfather who fought with the Connecticut Rangers in the Revolutionary War in Rhode Island. Clement Corbin fought along with such black men as Lot Little, who was a slave.
And it certainly was not the attitude of Eunice Davis. A known Abolitionist who worked with William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, Davis was the daughter of a revolutionary war hero by the name of Prince Ames. Ames who was married to Eunice Russ a Narragansett Indian was the son of a white father and Narragansett Indian mother.
The Narragansett Indians were known as a tribe of diverse cultures which also included Africans. The tribe had a vision of themselves as “a nation rather than a race”, and it was a multiracial nation. Therefore the y did not frown on what has been termed as interracial or mixed marriages, which of course was illegal I this country until the U.S. Supreme ruled the unconstitutionality of such local laws in the historic case known as Loving v. Virginia.
Eunice Davis first marriage was to a white man. That marriage ended after his death. Together they had three children. Eunice whose second husband was black became a member of the DAR in 1896 at the age of 96.
As a result of the DAR’s refusal, Marian Anderson went on to give her Concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. On April 9, 1939 at the invitation of Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes. Ms. Anderson sang before an integrated crowd of 75,000. That audience included Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, and New York Senator Robert Wagoner The concert was also broadcasted over the radio to millions.
This Easter marks 73 years since the Marian Anderson Lincoln Memorial concert. In these 73 years the Daughters of The American Revolution has made a lot of progressive changes. In 1943 they welcomed Marian Anderson to Constitution Hall for a benefit concert for war relief. In 1964, Ms. Anderson chose the Hall as the launching pad of her American farewell tour.
The DAR changed their policy in regards to Constitution Hall in 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education overruled Plessy. However, they did not accept their first acknowledged black member a until 1977.
Karen Batchelor also known as Karen Farmer sat down at the Lunch Counter with Febone1960.net. Karen is that first acknowledged black member invited and accepted into the DAR after the unfortunate Marian Anderson incident.
Also sitting with us at the lunch counter is Kim Harrison, a descendant of Lot Little. Lot Little was, a slave who fought at the Battle of Saratoga. Both women described their journey leading them to the DAR. They also discussed the surprising revelations of that journey.
Take listen to their interview by viewing the video above. Febone1960.net think you will find this interview very revealing with respect to race.
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The lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. From left, Louis L. Redding, Robert L. Carter, Oliver W. Hill, Thurgood Marshall and Spottswood W. Robinson III.
Robert L. Carter, leading strategist and persuasive voice in the legal assault on racial segregation in 20th-century America died Tuesday morning in Manhattan. The former federal judge in New York was 94.
The cause was complications of a stroke, said his son John W. Carter, a justice of the New York Supreme Court in the Bronx.
Judge Carter presided over the merger of professional basketball leagues in the 1970s and was instrumental in opening the New York City police force to more minority applicants.
Mr. Carter’s greatest impact came in the late 1940s and 1950s as a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. The Legal Defense and Educational Fund was led by Charles Hamilton Houston. Thurgood Marshall succeeded Houston who went on tackle desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Often laboring behind the scenes, Judge Carter had a significant hand in many historic legal challenges to racial discrimination in the postwar years. None was more momentous than the landmark case known as Brown v. Board of Education. Decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Brown abolished legal segregation in the public schools throughout the United States.
Mr. Carter’s well-honed argument that the segregation of public schools was unconstitutional on its face became the Supreme Court’s own conclusion in Brown. The decision swept away half a century of legal precedent that the South had used to justify its “separate but equal” doctrine decided in its’ 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision.
Underpaid and overworked, Mr. Carter and his Legal Defense Fund colleagues argued before the court that the South’s schools rarely offered anything like equal opportunities to black children. Segregation itself, they contended, was so damaging to black children that it should be abolished, on the ground that it was contrary to the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens.
Mr. Carter spent years doing research in law and history to construct that legal theory before it reached the Supreme Court. Though aspects of segregation law had been struck down before World War II, Mr. Carter’s task was still daunting. His challenge was to persuade the Supreme Court to overturn, finally, a looming obstacle to equal rights, the court’s 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. That ruling upheld a Louisiana law requiring racial separation on railroad cars. The South used that decision to justify a wide range of discriminatory practices for years to come.
“We have one fundamental contention,” Mr. Carter told the court. “No state has any authority under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.”
Mr. Carter insisted on using the research of the psychologist Kenneth B. Clark to attack segregated schools, a daring courtroom tactic in the eyes of some civil rights lawyers. Experiments by Mr. Clark and his wife, Mamie, showed that black children suffered in their learning and development by being segregated. Mr. Clark’s testimony proved crucial in persuading the court to act, Mr. Carter wrote in a 2004 book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights.”
As chief deputy to the imposing Mr. Marshall, who was to become the first black Supreme Court justice, Mr. Carter labored for years in his shadow. In the privacy of legal conferences, Mr. Carter was seen as the house radical, always urging his colleagues to push legal and constitutional positions to the limits.
Mr. Marshall had encouraged him to play the gadfly: “I was younger and more radical than many of the people Thurgood would have in, I guess. But he’d never let them shut me up.”
Robert Lee Carter was born in Caryville, in the Florida Panhandle, on March 17, 1917, the youngest of nine children. The family moved to New Jersey when he was 6 weeks old, and his father, Robert L. Carter, died when he was a year old. Annie Martin Carter, his mother, took in laundry for white people for 25 years.
Mr. Carter recalled experiencing racial discrimination as a 16-year-old in East Orange, N.J. The high school he attended allowed black students to use its pool only on Fridays, after classes were over. After he read in the newspaper that the State Supreme Court had outlawed such restrictions, he entered the pool with white students and stood up to a teacher’s threat to have him expelled from school. It was his first taste of activism, he said.
Judge Carter attended two predominantly black universities: Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he enrolled at 16, and Howard University School of Law in Washington. Enrolling in Columbia University as a graduate student, he wrote his master’s thesis on the First Amendment. Parts of the thesis was used in preparing for the school segregation cases in the 1950s.
Mr. Carter joined the Army a few months before the United States entered World War II. That experience made a militant of him, he said, starting with the day a white captain welcomed Mr. Carter’s unit of the Army Air Corps at Augusta, Ga. The captain, Mr. Carter states in his memoir, “wanted to inform us right away that he did not believe in educating niggers.”
“He was not going to tolerate our putting on airs or acting uppity,” Mr. Carter said.
In spite of repeated antagonisms, Mr. Carter completed Officer Candidate School and became a second lieutenant. He was the only black officer at Harding Field in Baton Rouge, La., and promptly integrated the officers’ club, arousing new anger. The determined Mr. Carter was soon transferred to a training base in Columbus, Ohio, where he continued to face racial hostility.
After leaving the service in 1944 he was hired as a lawyer at the Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The organization was then the legal arm of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It later became an independent organization. By 1948, he had become Marshall’s chief deputy and soon became active in the school segregation cases. One notable case was Sweatt v. Painter, in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1950 that the University of Texas Law School had acted illegally in denying admission to a black applicant.
Mr. Carter was also involved in housing discrimination cases, the dismantling of all-white political primaries in several Southern states and the ending of de facto school segregation in the North.
Mr. Carter was disappointed when Marshall passed him over and chose a white staff lawyer, Jack Greenberg, to succeed him as director-counsel of the fund in 1961. Considering it as a demotion, Mr. Carter moved to the N.A.A.C.P. as its general counsel. By then the NAACP was a separate entity. Mr. Carter resented what he considered as Mr. Greenberg’s undercutting him.
Mr. Carter resigned in protest from the N.A.A.C.P. in 1968 when its board fired a white staff member, Lewis M. Steel, who had written an article in The New York Times Magazine critical of the Supreme Court. After a year at the Urban Center at Columbia, he joined the New York law firm of Poletti, Freidin, Prashker, Feldman & Gartner. President Richard M. Nixon nominated him to the federal bench for the Southern District of New York in 1972 at the recommendation of Senator Jacob K. Javits, Republican of New York.
On the bench, Judge Carter became known for his strong hand in cases involving professional basketball. He oversaw the merger of the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association in the 1970s, the settlement of a class-action antitrust suit against the N.B.A. brought by Oscar Robertson and other players, and a number of high-profile free-agent arbitration disputes involving players like Marvin Webster and Bill Walton.
In 1979, his findings of bias shown against black and Hispanic applicants for police jobs in New York City led to significant changes in police hiring policies and an increase in minority representation on the force.
Mr. Carter, who lived in Manhattan and died in a hospital there, married Gloria Spencer of New York in 1946. She died in 1971. Besides his son John, Judge Carter is survived by another son, David; a sister, Alma Carter Lawson; and a grandson.
Well into advanced age, Mr. Carter retained the fire of a civil rights fighter who believed that much remained to be done in the pursuit of racial equality.
“Black children aren’t getting equal education in the cities,” he said in an interview with The Times in 2004. “The schools that are 100 percent black are still as bad as they were before Brown. Integration seems to be out, at least for this generation.”
“I have hope” he went on to say.
“In the United States, we make progress in two or three steps, then we step back,” he added. “And blacks are more militant now and will not accept second-class citizenship as before.”
If you wish to hear about the Brown decision in his own words, you can view the Febone1960.net Black History Month Calendar video clip which includes Judge Robert L. Carter.
Febone1960.net extends its’ condolences to the family of this legal genius and fellow Howard Law Alum.
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The Freedom Riders were mostly middle aged civil rights activists that rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (of 1960). The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in the Big Easy (New Orleans) on May 17.
Boynton v. Virginia had outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission (“ICC”) had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel. The ICC, however, had failed to enforce its own ruling, and therefore Jim Crow travel laws remained in effect throughout the South.
The Freedom Riders set out to challenge this segregation status quo set of local laws and customs by riding various forms of public transportation in the South. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to the violent disregard for the law that was used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses.
Most of the subsequent rides were sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), while others belonged to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”). The Freedom Rides followed on the heels of dramatic sit-ins against segregated lunch counters conducted by students and youth throughout the South and boycotts beginning in 1960.
The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Boynton v. Virginia granted interstate travelers the legal right to disregard local segregation ordinances regarding interstate transportation facilities. But the Freedom Riders’ rights were not enforced, and their actions were considered criminal acts throughout most of the South. For example, upon the Riders’ arrival in Mississippi, their journey ended with imprisonment for exercising their legal rights in interstate travel. Similar arrests took place in other Southern cities.
The Freedom Riders were inspired by the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, led by civil rights activists Bayard Rustin ( March on Washington) and George Houser. Like the Freedom Rides of 1961, the Journey of Reconciliation was intended to test an earlier Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel. Rustin and a few of the other riders, chiefly members of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), were arrested and sentenced to serve on a chain gang in North Carolina for violating local Jim Crow laws regarding segregated seating on public transportation.
The first Freedom Ride began on May 4, 1961. Led by CORE Director James Farmer, 13 riders (seven black, six white) left Washington, D.C., on Greyhound and Trailways buses. Their plan was to ride through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, ending with a rally in New Orleans, Louisiana. Most of the Riders were from CORE, and two were from SNCC. Many were in their 40s and 50s.
The Freedom Riders tactics for their journey were to have at least one interracial pair sitting in adjoining seats and at least one black Rider sitting up front (seats usually reserved for white customers only), while the rest would sit scattered throughout the rest of the bus. One rider would abide by the South’s segregation ideals in order to avoid arrest and to contact CORE and arrange bail for those who were arrested.
Only minor trouble was encountered in Virginia and North Carolina, but John Lewis was attacked in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and some of the Riders were arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Winnsboro, South Carolina.
Violence in Alabama was organized by Birmingham Police Sergeant Tom Cook (an avid Ku Klux Klan supporter) and the infamous police commissioner Bull Connor. The pair made plans to bring the Ride to an end in Alabama. They assured Gary Thomas Rowe, an FBI informer and member of Eastview Klavern #13 (the most violent Klan group in Alabama), that the mob would have fifteen minutes to attack the Freedom Riders without any arrests being made. The final plan laid out an initial assault in Anniston with a final assault taking place in Birmingham.
In Anniston, Alabama, a mob attacked the Greyhound bus and slashed its tires. When the crippled bus had to stop several miles outside of town, it was firebombed by the mob chasing it in cars. As the bus burned, the mob held the doors shut, intent on burning the riders to death. Sources disagree, but either an exploding fuel tank or an undercover state investigator brandishing a revolver caused the mob to retreat, allowing the riders to escape the bus. The riders were viciously beaten as they fled the burning bus, and only warning shots fired into the air by highway patrolmen prevented the riders from being lynched.
That night, the hospitalized Freedom Riders, most of whom had been refused care, were removed from the hospital at 2 AM, because the staff feared the mob outside the hospital. Local civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth organized several cars of blacks who defied the mob to rescue the injured Freedom Riders.
When the Trailways bus reached Anniston and pulled in at the terminal an hour after the Greyhound bus was burned, it was boarded by eight Klansmen, who proceeded to beat the Freedom Riders and afterwards left them semi-conscious in the back of the bus. When the bus arrived in Birmingham, it too was attacked by a mob of Ku Klux Klan members, aided and abetted by the police under the orders of Commissioner Bull Connor. As the riders exited the bus, they were mercilessly beaten by the mob with baseball bats, iron pipes and bicycle chains. Among the Klansmen attacking the riders was FBI informant Gary Thomas Rowe. White Freedom Riders were particularly singled out for frenzied beatings; James Peck required more than 50 stitches to the wounds in his head. Peck was taken to Carraway Methodist Medical Center, which refused to treat him; he was later treated at Jefferson Hillman Hospital.
When reports of the bus burning and beatings reached US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, he urged restraint on the part of Freedom Riders and sent an assistant, John Seigenthaler, to Alabama to try to calm the situation.
Despite the violence suffered already and the threat of more to come, the Freedom Riders desired to continue their journey. Kennedy had arranged an escort for the Riders in order to get them to Montgomery safely. However, radio reports told of the mob awaiting the riders at the bus terminal, as well as on the route to Montgomery. The Greyhound clerks also informed them that their drivers were refusing to drive any Freedom Riders anywhere. The Riders agreed that their efforts had already called great attention to the civil rights cause and that if they encountered any more delays, then they would miss the rally in New Orleans. Taking all this into consideration, the Riders decided that their best option was to abandon the rest of the Ride and fly directly to New Orleans from Birmingham.
Nashville student and SNCC leader Diane Nash felt that if violence were allowed to halt the Freedom Rides, the movement would be set back years. She pushed to find replacements to resume the ride, and, on May 17, a new set of riders, 10 students from Nashville, took a bus to Birmingham, where they were arrested by Bull Connor and jailed. These students kept their spirits up in jail by singing freedom songs. Out of frustration, Connor drove them back up to the Tennessee line and dropped them off, stating, “I just couldn’t stand their singing.” They immediately returned to Birmingham.
The Freedom Riders who had answered SNCC’s call from across the Eastern US joined John Lewis and Hank Thomas, the two young SNCC members of the original Ride who had remained in Birmingham. On May 19, they attempted to resume the ride, but, terrified by the howling mob surrounding the bus depot, the drivers refused. Harassed and besieged by the KKK mob, the riders waited all night for a bus.
Under intense public pressure from the Kennedy administration, Greyhound was forced to provide a driver, and Alabama Governor John Patterson reluctantly promised to protect the bus from KKK mobs and snipers on the road between Birmingham and Montgomery after direct intervention from Attorney General’s office employee Byron White. On the morning of May 20, the Freedom Ride resumed, with the bus carrying the riders traveling toward Montgomery at 90 miles an hour protected by a contingent of the Alabama State Highway Patrol.
However, when they reached the Montgomery city limits, the Highway Patrol abandoned them. At the bus station on South Court Street, a white mob awaited and beat the Freedom Riders with baseball bats and iron pipes. The local police allowed the beatings to go on uninterrupted.
Again, white Freedom Riders were singled out for particularly brutal beatings. Reporters and news photographers were attacked first and their cameras destroyed, but there is a famous picture taken later of Jim Zwerg in the hospital, beaten and bruised. Justice Department official Seigenthaler was beaten and left unconscious lying in the street. Ambulances refused to take the wounded to the hospital. Local blacks rescued them, and a number of the Freedom Riders were hospitalized.
On the following night, Sunday, May 21, more than 1500 people packed Reverend Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church to honor the Freedom Riders. Among the speakers were Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Farmer. Outside, a mob of more than 3,000 whites attacked blacks, with a handful of the United States Marshals Service protecting the church from assault and fire bombs. With city and state police making no effort to restore order, President Kennedy threatened to commit federal troops, but Governor Patterson forestalled that by ordering the Alabama National Guard to disperse the mob.[
On the next day, Monday, May 22, more Freedom Riders from CORE and SNCC arrived in Montgomery to continue the rides and replace the wounded riders still in the hospital. Behind the scenes, the Kennedy administration arranged a deal with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi. The governors agreed that state police and the National Guard would protect the Riders from mob violence (thereby ending embarrassing media coverage of bloody lawlessness), and, in return, the federal government would not intervene to stop local police from arresting Freedom Riders for violating segregation ordinances when the buses arrived at the depots (even though such arrests violated the Supreme Court’s Boynton decision).
On Wednesday morning, May 24, Freedom Riders boarded buses for the journey to Jackson, Mississippi. Surrounded by Highway Patrol and the National Guard, the buses arrived in Jackson without incident, and the riders were immediately arrested when they tried to use the white-only facilities at the depot. In Montgomery, Freedom Riders including Yale University chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Gaylord Brewster Noyce, Shuttlesworth, Abernathy, Wyatt Tee Walker, and others were similarly arrested for violating local segregation ordinances.
This established a pattern followed by subsequent Freedom Rides, most of which traveled to Jackson, where they were arrested and jailed. The strategy became one of trying to fill the jails. Once the Jackson and Hinds County jails were filled to overflowing, Freedom Riders were transferred to the infamous Mississippi State Penitentiary (“Parchman Farm”). Their abusive treatment included placement in the Maximum Security Unit (Death Row), issuance of only underwear, no exercise, no mail, and, when Freedom Riders refused to stop singing freedom songs, they took away mattresses, sheets, and toothbrushes and removed the screens from the windows. When the cell block became filled with mosquitoes, they hosed everyone down with DDT at 2 AM.
Some of the notable freedom riders were as follows: Stokely Carmichael, James L. Farmer, Jr.,
US Representative Bob Filner (D-CA), US Representative John Lewis (D-GA), William Mahoney, Wally Nelson, James Peck, and Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson and Diane Nash.
The Kennedys called for a “cooling off period” and condemned the Rides as unpatriotic because they embarrassed the nation on the world stage. Attorney General Robert Kennedy—the chief law-enforcement officer of the land—was quoted as saying that he “does not feel that the Department of Justice can side with one group or the other in disputes over Constitutional rights.”
Defying the Kennedys, CORE, SNCC, and SCLC rejected any “cooling off period”. They formed a Freedom Riders Coordinating Committee to keep the Rides rolling through June, July, August, and September. During those months, more than 60 different Freedom Rides criss-crossed the South, most of them converging on Jackson, where every Rider was arrested, more than 300 in total, plus an unknown number of riders arrested in other Southern towns. It is estimated that almost 450 riders participated in one or more Freedom Rides. About 75% were male, and the same percentage were under the age of 30, mostly evenly divided between black and white.
During the summer of 1961, Freedom Riders also campaigned against other forms of racial discrimination. They sat together in segregated restaurants, lunch counters and hotels. This was especially effective when it targeted large companies, which, fearing boycotts in the North, began to desegregate their businesses.
In mid-June, a group of Freedom Riders had scheduled to end their ride in Tallahassee, Florida, with plans to fly home from the Tallahassee airport. They were provided a police escort to the airport from the city’s bus facilities. At the airport, they decided to eat at a restaurant that was signed “For Whites Only”. The owners decided to close rather than serve the Freedom Riders. Although the restaurant was privately owned, it was leased from the county government. Canceling their plane reservations, the Riders decided to wait until the restaurant re-opened so they could be served. They waited until 11:00 pm that night and returned the following day. During this time, hostile crowds gathered, threatening violence. On June 16, 1961, the Freedom Riders were arrested in Tallahassee for unlawful assembly. That arrest became known as Dresner v. City of Tallahassee, which made its way to the US Supreme Court in 1963, in which a hearing was refused based on technical reasons.
On May 29, 1961, bowing to the demands of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders, as well as international outrage, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, in an unorthodox legal maneuver, sent a petition to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to comply with a bus-desegregation ruling it had issued in November, 1955, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. That ruling had explicitly repudiated separate but equal in the realm of interstate bus travel, but, under the chairmanship of South Carolina Democrat J. Monroe Johnson, the ICC had failed to enforce its own ruling.
In September 1961, bowing to pressure from the Attorney General and the civil rights movement, the ICC issued the necessary orders, and the new policies went into effect on November 1, 1961, a full six years after the ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. After the new ICC rule took effect, passengers were permitted to sit wherever they pleased on interstate buses and trains, “white” and “colored” signs came down in the terminals, separate drinking fountains, toilets, and waiting rooms were consolidated, and the lunch counters began serving people regardless of race.
The Freedom Rides sent shock waves through American society. People worried that the Rides were evoking widespread social disorder and racial divergence. This attitude was supported and strengthened in many communities by the press. The press in white communities condemned the direct action approach CORE was taking, while the national press negatively portrayed the Riders.
Yet, the Freedom Rides established great credibility with blacks and whites throughout the United States, who became motivated to engage in direct action for civil rights. Perhaps most significantly, Freedom Riders, facing such danger on their behalf, impressed blacks living in rural areas throughout the South who later formed the backbone of the civil rights movement. This credibility inspired many subsequent civil rights campaigns, including voter registration, freedom schools, and the black power movement.
PBS will be airing a film about this historical event which will be celebrating its’ 50th year anniversary. The film is directed by Peabody award winning film maker Stanley Nelson. A telephone interview with Nelson by Febone1960.net can be heard above.
Below is a video discussing a PBS event encouraging the young people to learn about civil disobedience. Take a look at both.
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