The 1947 free rider convictions are vacant in North Carolina

Legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and three other men who were sentenced to work in a North Carolina chain gang after launching the first of the “freedom walks” to challenge Jim Crow’s laws will be released on Friday. more than seven decades later.

“As long as this trial takes place 75 years after the injustice, we must never hesitate to look at past mistakes, seek redress, and lift these heavy burdens from our hearts and minds so that future generations may know justice.” , Rene Price, chairman of the Orange County Commissioner’s Council, said in a statement.

On April 9, 1947, a group of eight white men and eight black men began the first “walk for freedom” to challenge laws requiring segregation on buses in violation of the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Morgan v. Virginia. declaring segregation when traveling between states unconstitutional.


The men boarded buses in Washington, D.C., on a two-week route that included stops in Durham, Chapel Hill and Greensboro, North Carolina. As riders tried to board the bus at Chapel Hill, several were forcibly removed and attacked by a group of angry taxi drivers. Four of the so-called Freedom Riders – Andrew Johnson, James Felmet, Bayard Rustin and Igal Rudenko – were arrested and charged with hooliganism for refusing to move from the front of the bus.

Following a trial in Orange County, the four men were convicted and sentenced to serve in a chain gang. Rustin later published writings about being imprisoned and subjected to hard labor to participate in the first freedom, also known as the Journey of Reconciliation.

In 1942, five years before the Chapel Hill episode, Rustin was beaten by police in Nashville, Tennessee, and taken to prison after refusing to move to the back of a bus traveling from Louisville, Kentucky. Raymond Arseno in Riders of Freedom: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. A pioneer of the civil rights movement, Rustin was an adviser to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and played an important role in organizing the 1963 campaign against Washington.


Dr. Adrian Lenz-Smith, an associate professor and associate professor in the Department of History at Duke University, describes Rustin as “a pastor and founder of the movement since the 1960s.” But Lenz-Smith said his role in the struggle had eventually diminished due to fears that he was gay and a former member of the Communist Party could harm the movement.

“He was deliberately displaced by the spotlight,” Lenz-Smith said. “The very things that make it remarkable and admirable for us … in 2022 made it deeply vulnerable then,” she said.

Last month, five district court judges marked the 75th anniversary of the arrests of Rustin and the other three men in Chapel Hill by reading an apology.

“The Orange County Court was on the wrong side of the law in May 1947 and was on the wrong side of history,” the statement said. “Today, we stand before our community on behalf of all five Orange and Chatham County Court judges and accept our responsibility to do our part to eliminate racial differences in our judiciary.

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The 1947 free rider convictions are vacant in North Carolina

Source link The 1947 free rider convictions are vacant in North Carolina

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