In this silent WSB newsfilm clip from May 24, 1961, members of the Alabama National Guard protect an interracial group of Freedom Riders as they arrive in Montgomery, Alabama, and leave the Greyhound bus terminal.
The clip begins with soldiers holding guns as they get out of the back of a truck; the soldiers then walk toward a line of buses. Two police officers on motorcycles escort a Greyhound bus into the parking lot. The sign on the bus indicates it is continuing on to New Orleans, Louisiana. Across the street a crowd watches the bus's arrival as soldiers and state troopers line the sidewalk in front of the bus terminal. Other observers are seen in upstairs windows of the building across the street.
Next, reverend A. D. King, brother of Martin Luther King, Jr., gets into the front seat of a waiting car. Another African American man, Clyde Carter, a student at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, gets into the backseat. Two white professors from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut are also in the car; John Maguire sits in the front seat and David Swift sits in the backseat. Troops stand between crowds on the sidewalk and the cars as they drive away from the bus station. The clip ends as a caravan of cars leaves the bus station.
On May 23, 1961, a group of professors from Yale and Wesleyan Universities met up with Charles Jones and Clyde Carter, students from Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina. The students and the professors met in Atlanta, Georgia, and decided to join the ongoing Freedom Rides; riders had been beaten after arriving in Montgomery, Alabama on May 21, 1961. The students and professors held a press conference in Atlanta on May 24 before their 12:30 pm departure to Montgomery. Although the bus was scheduled to make stops along the way, the bus driver and bus company avoided the possibility of further violence following the May 14 attack on two buses in Anniston, Alabama and instead drove directly to Montgomery. The bus and the seven Freedom Riders were met in Montgomery by several hundred Alabama National Guardsmen who held back a crowd of white observers. Reverends Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth drove the men from the bus station to private homes for the evening. The next day, May 25, the seven freedom riders, joined by Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, Wyatt Walker, and Bernard Lee sought service at the "white-only" lunch counter at the Montgomery bus station and were arrested for disorderly conduct, preventing them from traveling to Jackson, Mississippi as they had planned.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Alabama National Guardsmen protecting an interracial group of Freedom Riders as they arrive at the Greyhound bus terminal in Montgomery, Alabama, 1961 May 24, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0747, 35:36/36:42, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.