Hallelujah! I'm a-Travelin'
Stand up and rejoice! A great day is here!
We're fighting Jim Crow and the victory's near!
Hallelujah! I'm a-travelin', Hallelujah, ain't it fine.
Hallelujah! I'm a-travelin' down freedom's main line!
—1961 freedom song1
TRUE TO WILKINS'S PREDICTION, Farmer's directorship of CORE began with a gallop. His first day on the job, February 1, 1961, was the first anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in, and all across the South demonstrators were engaging in commemorative acts of courage. As Farmer sat at his desk that first morning waiting for reports from the Southern front, he made his way through a stack of accumulated correspondence. Among the letters that caught his attention were several inquiries about Boynton v. Virginia, a recent Supreme Court decision involving Bruce Boynton, a Howard University law student from Selma, Alabama, arrested in 1958 for attempting to desegregate the whites-only Trailways terminal restaurant in Richmond. In December 1960 the Court overturned Boynton's conviction by ruling that state laws mandating segregated waiting rooms, lunch counters, and restroom facilities for interstate passengers were unconstitutional. With this ruling, the Court extended the 1946 Morgan decision, which had outlawed legally enforced segregation on interstate buses and trains. But, according to the letter writers, neither of these decisions was being enforced. Why, they asked, were black Americans still being harassed or arrested when they tried to exercise their constitutional right to sit in the front of the bus or to drink a cup of coffee at a bus terminal restaurant?
At a late-morning meeting, Farmer relayed this troubling question to his staff. To his surprise, two staff members had already come up with a