Beside the Weary Road
And ye, beneath life's crushing load, Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way With painful steps and slow,
Look now! For glad and golden hours Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road, And hear the angels sing.
—from the hymn "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear"1
DESPITE THE STUBBORN PERSISTENCE of segregated travel in the late 1940s, most CORE activists regarded the Journey of Reconciliation as a qualified success. Some even talked of organizing a series of interracial rides and other direct action challenges to Jim Crow in the Deep South. Speaking at an April 1948 Council Against Intolerance in America dinner in New York, Bayard Rustin hailed the Journey as the first of many interracial bus rides and "a training ground for similar peaceful projects against discrimination in employment and the armed services." At the time, neither he nor anyone else in CORE suspected that more than a decade would pass before even one more "freedom ride" materialized.
During the early 1950s CORE and the broader nonviolent movement entered a period of steady decline. As Jim Peck later recalled, "These were CORE's lean years—the years when social consciences throughout the United States were numbed by the infection of McCarthyism." In the 1960s civil rights advocates of all persuasions would become adept at turning the Cold War to their advantage by pointing out the international vulnerability of a nation that failed to practice what it preached on matters of race and democracy. But this was not the case in the 1950s, before the decolonization of Africa and Asia heightened State Department sensitivity to public opinion in the "colored" nations of the Third World. Plagued by anti-radical repression, an uncertain relationship with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and nagging factionalism,