On May 24, 1961, buses rolled in to Jackson carrying the first wave of Freedom Riders, who were immediately arrested upon attempting to integrate the facilities at the bus station. Fifty years later, this pivotal civil rights action will be remembered with a series of events in Jackson May 22–28.
Coordinated by the Mississippi Freedom 50th Foundation, the anniversary events will be attended by dozens of Freedom Riders. President Barack Obama is expected to attend.
Activities during the week will include private and public ceremonies to honor the Riders, panel discussions by Riders, other members of the Mississippi Movement, historians, and former government officials on the legacy of the Freedom Rides, a trip to the maximum-security building at Parchman penitentiary, where many of the Riders were incarcerated, and a day spent with students from around the state who are working to improve race relations in their communities.
MDAH will mount an exhibit in the lobby of the William F. Winter Building featuring photographs, newsfilm footage, and artifacts associated with the Freedom Rides. The exhibit will open in mid-May and close in October before traveling to other venues in Mississippi. MDAH is also developing online lesson plans following the Department of Education’s new civil rights curriculum.
For more information on the Freedom 50th events, visit the group’s Web site.