The Bus Ride That Launched A Movement

plaque commemorating where the albany civil rights movement
Adé Hennis
May 15, 2024

The parents of Freedom Riders never forgot Mother’s Day 1961.  A bus carrying their sons and daughters was blown up in Anniston, Alabama.  Fortunately everyone escaped. The bombing inspired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to organize its own freedom ride.

On Sunday, December 10, SNCC Freedom Riders embarked on the 180-mile journey from Atlanta to Albany, Georgia. Their mission was to register Black voters and promote desegregation in southern Georgia. The trip was uneventful until they reached Albany.

Within one week of SNCC’s arrival in Albany, hundreds of their Black supporters were arrested, including Martin Luther King Jr. After eight months, King concluded that the “Albany Movement” had been a failure, but he was wrong.

In the spring of 1962, Black businessman Thomas Chatmon was elected to Albany’s city commission, and a year later, that city commission rescinded its segregation statutes. The Albany Movement also taught King strategies he used in future protests including his historic march in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Albany Movement showed that whenever we think we have been knocked down, we can learn from the experience and keep trying. What lessons can we take from our rich history to secure a more liberated future?