To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Greyhound is restoring a vintage bus that was in service during the civil rights movement.
It was May 4, 1961, when a group of young civil rights activists set out on buses to protest against racial discrimination and segregation on public transportation. Now 60 years later, Greyhound unveiled a restored version of the vintage bus that was used at the same time the Freedom Rides took place, NBC News reports.
The restored bus was unveiled at the Alabama Historical Commission’s Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery on Tuesday. The date coincided with the day the first Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C. to travel to New Orleans by bus and protest against segregation.
“As we celebrate the arrival of the restored Greyhound Bus and its symbolic representation of the courage of the Freedom Riders, we also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the rides and their impact on equal rights for all Americans,” Alabama Historical Commission Chairman Eddie Griffith said.
The young activists were attacked by angry white mobs during their travels. But 13 participants from the Congress of Racial Equality, including John Lewis who went on to become a Georgia congressman, continued on to spread their message. The group’s mission was to get the U.S. government to enforce the 1960 Boynton v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling where it was deemed unconstitutional to segregate interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals.
As the protestors continued to face attacks without any police involvement, the Freedom Riders received nationwide attention. More young activists joined the group to protest against the blatant injustice. The movement led to President John F. Kennedy’s Interstate Commerce Commission which officially banned segregation in interstate transportation terminals.
The restored bus will remain as a permanent exhibit at the Alabama museum located at the Greyhound station the Freedom Riders arrived at 60 years ago.
“History happened here,” said Lisa D. Jones, executive director of the historical commission and the state historic preservation officer. “Preserving this place helps bring to life a critical part of the civil rights story, and the role Montgomery and the state of Alabama played in it.”