The Montgomery, Alabama, Greyhound bus station in which Freedom Riders were attacked 50-years-ago today is being reopening as a museum just blocks away from the Rosa Parks Library, the Civil Rights Memorial and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
On May 20, 1961, a group seeking to end segregation on buses, known as the Freedom Riders, were attacked by a mob of 300 angry people with baseball bats, pipes and sticks in the bus station. The passengers had been assured by the state police that they would have police escorts to protect their bus in Alabama, but upon arrival in Montgomery, police cars were nowhere to be found.
One teenage boy was set on fire.
Several original Freedom Riders including Georgia Rep. John Lewis are expected to attend the ceremony.
“As a student, and as someone who had grown up in rural Alabama, 50 miles from Montgomery, I had been deeply influenced by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I didn't like seeing signs that said "White" and "Colored," and I wanted to do something about it,” Lewis said in another interview.
The original “freedom buses” left Washington D.C. on May 4, 1961, with 13 passengers—seven Black and six white.
(Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)