Historical context of freedom rides, events of 1961: Other Events: 1961 In his farewell address, Dwight Eisenhower gives the American oublic warning of a growing military-industrial complex. Ray Kroc founds the McDonald's restaurant, The U.S. minimum wage is $1.25. At his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy says one of his most famous quotes, "Ask not what you country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." The American plan to take down Fidel Castro goes wrong in the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
In 1961, the Congress of Racial Equality sent nonviolent protesters on a bus ride to Dixie. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, noticing slight southern resistance while the riders cross state lines, orders Governor John Patterson to maintain order under the threat of federal troops being deployed. In Birmingham, the state police escort slowly disappears and the riders are firebombed. With the national guard now deployed, the riders proceed on and enter Mississippi, where they are arrested and sent to a maximum security prison. Over the next few months, 300 riders will be sent along the same route and will be arrested. Eventually, Kennedy gets the interstate commerce commission to ban segregation on interstate travel.
From the passing of the segregation ban on interstate travel, the civil righs movement is reenergized and revitalized. Taking this victory, activist garner support in the north and for the first time, the southern states feel like they are losing the battle of Civil Rights.
Published in May 31st, 1961, the Chicago Tribune wrote an article condemning the Governor of Alabama for his actions. The author says the governor is outside his lawful jurisdiction, and calls Kennedy to action to send in the national guard and protect the freedom riders. Noting the editorial perspective of the article, we can probably say the editor is a northern republican at this time, potentially trying to reach a broader audience and gather support for the civil rights movement
In another article by the New Orleans Times-Picayune (picaroon) the opposite perspective is argued. The language used during the passage is very immature in my own opinion, using words like "tippytoeing" and phrases such as "what is Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander". The diologue is significant enough to point out that the author is most likely a southern democrat, favoring the Alabama governor, attempting to discredit the federal government's treatment of the movement more than the civil rights movement itself.
Historical context of Non-violent protest, other events of 1962: The Cuban missile crisis nearly caused nuclear fallout between the US and Cuba, following the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion the year prior. Walter Kronktie becomes news anchor for CBS Evening News. John Glenn becomes the first man to orbit the earth. In his orbit, he witnessed four sunsets in 24 hours.
By the end of 1961, 500 civil rights activists had been jailed in Albany, Georgia, and the movement was in dire need of support. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Albany, and the movement becomes energized with singing and spiritual activity. However, leadership issues erupt between the SCLC and SNCC. Laurie Pritchett, the police chief in Albany, seizes an opportunity. Systematically, Pritchett begins to arrest protestors and send the, to jails 50-60 miles away from Albany to keep nearby prisons free. The press don't catch wind of this, due to the covert tactics of the police department. Martin Luther King Jr. is also jailed, but his bail is paid for and he is allowed to leave so as not to arouse suspicion from the civil rights community. Taking a loss in Albany, the civil rights movement learns a lesson from this heavy defeat.
From their loss in Albany, civil rights activists learn to attract attention from the press, which in turn gathers attention from the north and gains them a vast amount of support. More lynchings end up in the press in the north, which reveals the horrors of racism truly to many northerners, who sympathize with the Civil Rights movement. This newfound support makes it easier to pass legislation in favor of the Civil Rights movement, resulting in a hastening and a slight panic amongst democrats in Washington.
The Louisville Courier Journal published an editorial titled "Another Round in a Wasteful Fight" on July 16, 1962. The article states that the recent action in Albany is depressing, but not because of any violence, "for there was none". But because segregationalists are simply wasting their time resisting the movement anymore. This article shows the blatant defeat and the line of southern resistance beginning to bend and crack, with extreme segregationalists still withholding, but the more moderate ones beginning to give up their fight.
On August 3, 1962, the New York Times published a like-minded editorial titled "Albany, Ga.". The article states how ridiculous it is that out of 58,000 people in Albany, the 20,000 that are African Americans have absolutely no say whatsoever as to who is running the government and policing the city. The article then says that a duly appointed council of African Americans should meet with the white government and discuss an amicable agreement. While this was a far stretch, the suggestion sparked real tangible debate, and I believe from here is where the light at the end of the tunnel could begin to shine for many African Americans. I believe the purpose of this article was to get people talking, and it certainly would have done such a thing.