UALR and co-sponsors, the Clinton Foundation and the City of Little Rock, unveiled the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary Bus on Monday, June 13. The bus features larger-than-life photos of the five Freedom Riders who came to Little Rock on July 10, 1961. Chancellor Joel E. Anderson cut the ribbon held by City of Little Rock’s Odies Wilson and the Clinton Foundation’s Joyce Willis before the bus hit the street promoting the 50th Anniversary Commemoration taking place July 10.
In July 1961, two groups of Freedom Riders sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality came on interstate busses to Little Rock to test the U.S. Supreme Court’s Boynton v. Virginia (1960) decision that ordered the integration of bus terminals. The first group of Riders to Little Rock was arrested as they got off the bus although the second group was allowed to use bus terminal facilities peacefully.
The black and white activists were a part of the Freedom Rides organized 50 years ago to integrate bus terminals in the segregated South. Their collective efforts led to an order from the Interstate Commerce Commission to desegregate bus terminals, which most Southern cities, including Little Rock, did when it came into force on November 1, 1961.