Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

By Raymond Arsenault | Go to book overview

Epilogue: Glory Bound

Yes, we are the Freedom Riders,
And we ride a long Greyhound.
White or black, we know no difference, Lord,
For we are Glory bound.1

DURING THE WINTER OF 1961–1962, the Freedom Riders exited from the center stage of American public life. But they did not go quietly. If 1961 was the year of the Freedom Rides, encompassing the heart of the drama, 1962 was the denouement. For the movement, and for the Freedom Riders themselves, the weeks and months following the initial implementation of the ICC order were filled with legal, tactical, and other matters related to the Rides. Indeed, for much of the nation—especially for white Southerners— 1962 proved to be a challenging period of adaptation and adjustment, a transitional era that saw the passing of old myths and the birth of new realities of race, region, and democracy. In Washington, Justice Department officials spent much of the year scrambling to meet—or in some cases deflect—the rising expectations of movement activists, while the president and other administration leaders dealt with the political fallout from the federal government's recent tilt toward constitutional enforcement and social justice. And in New York and Atlanta, civil rights leaders faced similar challenges as they strained to maintain momentum and a spirit of cooperation in the face of new organizational realities—chiefly, the enhanced power and vitality of CORE and SNCC.

The Freedom Rides had compounded and accelerated the changes initiated by the 1960 sit-ins, and the reconfigured world of civil rights activism—in which students generally took the lead while lawyers, ministers, and other elders struggled to keep up—looked radically different from the late-1950s movement led by the NAACP and SCLC. By the end of 1962

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Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Raymond Arsenault ii
  • Pivotal Moments in American History iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Editors' Note xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow 11
  • 2: Beside the Weary Road 56
  • 3: Hallelujah! I'M A-Travelin' 93
  • 4: Alabama Bound 140
  • 5: Get on Board, Little Children 177
  • 6: If You Miss Me from the Back of the Bus 209
  • 7: Freedom's Coming and It Won't Be Long 259
  • 8: Make Me a Captive, Lord 304
  • 9: Ain't Gonna Let No Jail House Turn Me 'Round 343
  • 10: Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on Freedom 382
  • 11: Oh, Freedom 424
  • Epilogue: Glory Bound 477
  • Acknowledgments 527
  • Appendix: Roster of Freedom Riders 533
  • Notes 588
  • Bibliography 653
  • Index 680
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