CourageUnderFire: “Odessa Woolfolk Gallery
David J. Vann Gallery
Courage Under Fire: The 1961 Burning of the Freedom Riders Bus by Joseph Postiglione
On Mothers Day, May 14, 1961, angry mobs of segregationists staged attacks on buses on which interracial groups of passengers deliberately rode to test southern states’ compliance with federal interstate transportation laws.
The Freedom Riders were on a journey sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a human rights organization dedicated to peaceful, nonviolent protests against injustice. As they rode from Washington, D.C., into the Deep South states of South Carolina and Georgia, the Freedom Riders encountered plenty of resistance. However, extreme violence in Alabama catapulted the story of the Freedom Rides into the national conciousness. Riders on the buses were badly beaten in Anniston and Birmingham. Images of the smoldering bus on a Calhoun County roadside quickly made news wires.
Not every rider on the Greyhound and Trailways buses was a participant in CORE’s nonviolent challenge to segregation. Some riders were simply on a routine trip from Atlanta to Birmingham, and two riders were plainclothes state investigators placed on the bus by Alabama Governor John Patterson. However, the photos in the exhibition ensured that all of the riders’ names made history.
The photographs were taken by Anniston Star reporter Joseph Postiglione. The photos were donated by the Anniston law firm of Merrill, Merrill, Mathews & Allen, LLC. The exhibition will be on view to the public March 15 – May 22, 2011″