Old Greyhound Bus Station-Site of the Arrest of the Freedom Riders, 1961
This former Greyhound Bus Station was the site of an important event during the Civil Rights era. On May 24, 1961, a group of 27 Freedom Riders (both white and black students) arrived at the station and were immediately arrested and charged with trespassing into the whites-only room. The incident attracted national attention and encouraged others to go on Freedom Rides throughout the South. The interior of the station has been beautifully renovated to appear as it might have during WWII. There is a mural that appears to have changed the word "Colored" with baggage, apparently seeking to distance the station from that day. Beyond a historic marker outside the building, there is little inside the restored station (which now serves as the office of an architectural firm) to remind visitors of the 1961 Freedom Rides that made this bus station famous. That history appears below through images and links to articles, books, and videos.
Backstory and Context
Jackson was the second planned stop of the Freedom Riders' journey from Montgomery, Alabama to New Orleans. National Guardsmen were stationed at each location and the Riders left Montgomery without incident (and escorted by the Guard and highway patrolmen). The departure made national headlines.
When the two buses of Riders arrived at the station no angry mob was there to greet them. However, upon entering the whites-only waiting room, police arrested them and took them to jail. The next day they were sentenced to 60 days in prison for violating state law. The judge at the trial turned his back on the riders' defense attorney, Jack Young, as he spoke on behalf of the riders. With the assistance of the NAACP, however, the convictions were soon overturned. Around 300 Riders would travel through the South in 1961.
Lynch, Adam. "Freedom Riders Recognized." Jackson Free Press. May 24, 2011. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2011/may/24/freedom-riders-recognized.
"May 24, 1961: Freedom Riders leave Montgomery, arrive in Jackson and arrested." The King Center. Accessed June 28, 2014. http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/chronologyentry/1961_05_24.