Freedom Riders waiting at bus terminal

Photo: Getty Images

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Birmingham, Alabama, May 14
On May 14, at the Trailways bus terminal in Birmingham, the other group of CORE Freedom Riders are greeted by a hostile mob. Ahead of the Riders' arrival, Bull Connor's police department has struck a deal with the Ku Klux Klan; when the bus arrives at the terminal, the mob will have 15 minutes to burn, bomb, kill and maim without police intervention or arrests. Freedom Rider James Peck and others are severely injured in the riot that follows.

Eventually, the original CORE Freedom Riders are transported to the Birmingham airport, in hopes of flying to their original destination, New Orleans. The Kennedy Administration dispatches John Seigenthaler, assistant to the attorney general, to Birmingham to ensure the safe departure of the Riders. Seigenthaler is able to secure a flight for the Riders, and a plane transports them to New Orleans.

FROM: Oprah Honors American Heroes: The Freedom Riders Reunite 50 Years Later
Published on May 04, 2011


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