Freedom Rides

Armstrong III, Thomas Madison: Oral History

Thomas Armstrong participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He says that one of Ross Barnett’s speeches encouraged him to participate in the Freedom Rides, because Barnett said that Mississippian’s were happy with the present conditions. The video was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

Thomas Madison Armstrong III from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Thomas Madison Armstrong III

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Jackson, MS; Naperville, IL; United States Postal Service; family religious background
2:00-4:00 Family reaction to involvement; Tougaloo College; Ross Barnett; Mary Harrison Lee; arrest at Jackson bus station
4:00-6:00 Jackson City Jail; disturbing the peace charges; trial
6:00-8:00 June 23, 1961; reaction to being in jail; Freedom Songs; “We Shall Overcome”
8:00-10:00 SNCC; voter registration; sit-ins
10:00-12:00 Mississippi Freedom Summer; voter registration; McComb, MS
12:00-14:00 McComb, MS; Freedom Riders; Stokely Carmichael; Julian Young; Martin Luther King, Jr.
14:00-16:00 Kansas City, MO; return to Mississippi; influence of involvement on his life
16:00-18:00 Influence of involvement on his life
18:00-20:00 Involvement since movement; participation

 

Nixon, Sandra: Oral History

Sandra Nixon participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. This video was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

Sandra Nixon from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

Her oral history may also be viewed here.

 

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Sandra Nixon

Date: November, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Desire Housing Project, New Orleans; Isaac Thomas; child protection services, New Orleans
2:00-4:00 Fergus & Cecilia Pierre; family history; Southern University; Castle Haley; Doris Haley; Jerome Smith
4:00-6:00 CORE New Orleans; nonviolence training; father WWII vet
6:00-8:00 Family apprehension; May 30, 1961 trip from New Orleans to Jackson, MS by train; arrest
8:00-10:00 Charged with breach of peace; arrest; Jackson City Jail; Hinds County Jail; Parchman Penitentiary; conditions in Parchman
10:00-12:00 Parchman experiences; “Oh Freedom”
12:00-14:00 Personal experience; Strive Towards Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr.; Southern University
14:00-16:00 New Orleans; Jerome Smith; Aretha Haley, Doris Castle; CORE demonstrations; New Orleans City Hall
16:00-18:00 Legacy of involvement
18:00-20:00 Legacy of involvement, movement

 

Singleton, Robert: Oral History

Robert Singleton participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He describes being arrested in Jackson and the conditions in the city jail. The oral history was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

Robert Singleton from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

 

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Dr. Robert Singleton

Date: November 8, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Philadelphia; Los Angeles; UCLA; Army
2:00-4:00 Sit-ins; President of UCLA NAACP; CORE; family background; South Carolina
4:00-6:00 Family concern
6:00-8:00 UCLA; raising bail money; New Orleans orientation; Jackson
8:00-10:00 Arrest; Jackson City Jail; Hinds County Jail; Parchman Penitentiary
10:00-12:00 Parchman; Deputy Tyson; singing in jail
12:00-14:00 Deputy Tyson
14:00-16:00 Parchman experience
16:00-18:00 LA Woolworth’s boycotts
18:00-20:00 Reflections on experience
20:00-22:00 New Orleans; Freedom Songs
22:00-24:00 Parchman experience
24:00-26:00 Release from Parchman; Philadelphia; UCLA
26:00-28:00 Returning home; LA City Schools cases; Serrano vs. Priest; continued education
28:00-30:00 Posterity needs access to this information

 

Filner, Robert: Oral History

United States Representative Robert Filner participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He explains the conditions at the city jails, the county jails, and Parchman State Penitentiary in Mississippi. The oral history was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

Robert Filner from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Congressman Bob Fillner

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Congressman from California’s 50th District (San Diego) in fifth term; previously city councilman, school board member, professor of European history at San Diego State University
2:00-4:00 Organized students for Student March on Washington in high school; studied at Cornell University; reaction to seeing burning bus in Anniston, AL on television; only two students from Cornell participated in Freedom Rides, travelled to Nashville for day of training and was on one of the first buses to Jackson, MS
4:00-6:00 Sentencing and jail experience, conditions at Hinds County Jail and Parchman Penitentiary
6:00-8:00 Cell mate went stir crazy and had to be removed from cell; called into city police chief’s office
8:00-10:00 Family response to involvement; relationship between Jewish religion and civil rights movement
10:00-12:00 Relation between Jewish American and African American experience
12:00-14:00 His children also politically aware; John Lewis’ pilgrimage with members of Congress to Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham
14:00-16:00 Impact of pilgrimage on his daughter; key changes in the South
16:00-18:00 Most of his fellow Congressional representative from the South are black; housing segregation
18:00-20:00 Strategies of Freedom Riders
20:00-22:00 Wishes for more visible activity in present day movement
22:00-24:00 Ways to get involved
24:00-26:00 Ways to get involved influenced by personal experience
26:00-28:00 Involvement; his work organizing constituents for change
28:00-30:00 Empowerment; continued racism; must find issues everyone can relate to
30:00-32:00 The man who arrested he and John Lewis also became a Democratic Congressman
32:00-34:00 Freedom Riders were ordinary people doing special things and forced to be leaders
34:00-36:00 Changed the course of American History

Davidov, Marv: Oral History

Marv Davidov participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He describes the conditions at Parchman State Penitentiary. The video was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

Marv Davidov from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Marv Davidov

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 From Minneapolis, grew up in Detroit; reasons for participating in Freedom Rides and how he became involved, June, 1961
2:00-4:00 Because of David Martin (the “first hippie in Minnesota”) attended meeting on Freedom Rides organized by Zev Aelony; bomb threat at meeting
4:00-6:00 Greyhound Station in Minneapolis; travelled to Nashville, TN for orientation and then on to Jackson, MS; one of the first “Minnesota Beats [beatniks]”
6:00-8:00 Older rider in his group (29 years old); Bob Baum, Claire O’Connor also on ride; books he took with him for the trip; met Nelson and Marion Fulson in Nashville, Quaker couple
8:00-10:00 Housed by the Fulsons, who both taught at Fisk University; orientation led by Diane Nash and John Lewis
10:00-12:00 Taken one at a time to Greyhound station in Nashville and given instructions for ride
12:00-14:00 In Yazoo City, MS, white youth looking for Freedom Riders on bus; Emmett Till; currently teaches course on active nonviolence at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and teaches in justice and peace department as adjunct professor
14:00-16:00 Fear; arrival at Jackson, MS bus station and arrest by Captain Ray; arrest details
16:00-18:00 Interrogation; Jack Young, black attorney, met with Freedom Riders and discussed details of trial
18:00-20:00 Trial and conviction; Hinds County Jail
20:00-22:00 Support from Jackson’s black community; getting to know other Freedom Riders; transport to Parchman Penitentiary by Capt. Ray
22:00-24:00 Transport and reactions to Parchman
24:00-26:00 Parchman
26:00-28:00 Heath Rush cellmate in Parchman; service held by Freedom Riders in Parchman with Henry Thomas, Cordell Reagon singing
28:00-30:00 Reactions to situation
30:00-32:00 Sheriff Tyson of Hinds County Jail; treatment of prisoners
32:00-34:00 Punished for singing; religion vs. spirituality; treatment of prisoners
34:00-36:00 Minnesota group visited by their state’s Assistant Attorney General and shared truth about conditions treatment of SNCC members with Atty. General and Gladys Brooks of the Governor’s Human Rights Commission, in front of Sheriff Tyson
36:00-38:00 Never received any mail after telling Atty. Gen and Governor’s rep. about treatment; Parchman; Warden Fred Jones
38:00-40:00 Meeting with Warden; Parchman experiences
40:00-42:00 Parchman and release from Parchman
42:00-44:00 Post-release conversation with detective who interrogated him
44:00-46:00 Arrival in Minneapolis
46:00-48:00 Reasons for participating; return to Mississippi for arraignment; Stokely Carmichael; Bill Conslar, Jack _____, and Carson Hall, attorneys for Freedom Riders
48:00-50:00 Chicago Eight; American Radical Movement for Justice and Peace; arrest record
50:00-52:00 Integrated Peace Walk, 1963-64 (Georgia); travelled to Cuba 6 times; met Martin Luther King, Jr. a couple of times
52:00-54:00 History; social change; hopes for future of America; “revolutionary nonviolence”

 

Siegenthaler, John: Oral History

U.S. Attorney General’s Assistant John Siegenthaler observed the Freedom Rides in 1961. He speaks about the violence at Anniston, Alabama, and his attempt to convince Diane Nash to end the Freedom Rides on behalf of the federal government. He arrived in Montgomery before the Freedom Riders and attempted to prevent violence. In the mob in Montgomery, he tried to stop the violence and was beaten unconscious. The video excerpts come from the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

John Siegenthaler from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Freedom Rides

In the summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders, a group of mostly young people, both black and white, risked their lives to challenge the system of segregation in interstate travel in the South. The purpose of the rides was “to test the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional” (CORE, 2006). In 2001, participants gathered in Jackson, MS to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, where a number of oral history interviews were collected. Additional interviews about the events occurred over the following year.

A short documentary on the Freedom Rides: The Children Shall Lead

Interviews:

Moody, John: Oral History

John Moody participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He first describes the mob violence in Birmingham. Moody then speaks about the incarceration conditions in Mississippi. You can learn more about the Freedom Rides in the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

John Moody from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Lewis, John: Oral History

United States Representative John Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He speaks about the importance of nonviolence and public image for civil rights demonstrations. In the second clip, Lewis describes the violence in Montgomery. The video excerpts come from the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

John Lewis from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Mulholland, Joan Trumpower: Oral History

Joan Trumpower Mulholland participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. She describes the conditions at the prison in comparison to the jail. The video was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

 

Joan Trumpower Mulholland from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

 

Her oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Joan Mulholland

Name of Interviewer: April

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

 

 

Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 Washington, D.C.; Arlington, VA; Georgia; English as a Second Language teacher; family background
2:00-4:00 Family tensions; Duke University; NCC; D.C. NAG
4:00-6:00 John Moody, Paul Deitrich; Freedom Ride to Montgomery; Howard University; orientation in New Orleans; train to Jackson; arrest
6:00-8:00 Served 2 months in jail; Tougaloo; Parchman Penitentiary and conditions
8:00-10:00 Parchman conditions, experiences; active in movement from 1960-64
10:00-12:00 Arrest around June 8, 1961; left Parchman late August or early September, 1961; Freedom House on Rose Street, Jackson, MS, rented by SNCC; Tougaloo
12:00-14:00 Tougaloo; Freedom Summer
14:00-16:00 Kneel-ins; family reaction to involvement
16:00-18:00 Continued family reaction to involvement
18:00-20:00 Impact of involvement on personal life
20:00-22:00 Impact of involvement on personal life
22:00-24:00 September 11, 2001 experience