In this silent WSB newsfilm clip from May 24, 1961, an interracial group of Freedom Riders including Reverends Gaylord Noyce and William S. Coffin, Jr., professors John Maguire and David Swift, and African American students George B. Smith, Charles Jones, and Clyde Carter speak to reporters in Atlanta, Georgia before traveling by bus to Montgomery, Alabama. The clip begins with several people leaving a building; the image is obscured, and the individuals cannot be identified.
Next an interracial group of men walk into a building and sit down in a room with folding chairs and a piano. The men sit around a table and appear to hold a press conference; their comments are not recorded. The men at the table are, from left to right, Dr. John Maguire, professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; Clyde Carter, student at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dr. David Swift, professor at Wesleyan; William Coffin, chaplain at Yale University; George Smith, Yale University law student; Charles Jones, also a student at Johnson C. Smith University; and Gaylord Noyce, professor at Yale Divinity school. While the camera focuses on different men in the group, a photographer takes pictures, and reporters take notes. One of the microphones in front of the men is identified by a sign as from the WAOK station, an African American station in the Atlanta area. After the press conference, the men walk outside and stand with several other men while a reporter appears to interview them again; the clip is again dark, and it is hard to identify everyone. The camera focuses on a cross outside a building, possibly a church. The men from the press conference are seen briefly before a Greyhound bus as it backs out of a parking spot. Finally the camera focuses on a building with many windows before showing two men in front of a car, apparently trying to fix something.
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 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 on May 24 before their 12:30 pm departure from Atlanta to Montgomery. Although the bus was scheduled to make stops along the way, the bus driver and bus company apparently decided to avoid 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 an interracial group of Freedom Riders holding a press conference before leaving Atlanta, Georgia, 1961 May 24, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0052, 53:23/58:58, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.