Important Role of former Nazis in Eastern Germany." 

November 21, 1950
Central Files Decimal Number 762B.00

We Were Prepared for the Possibility of Death: Freedom Riders in the South, 1961

Memorandum concerning a Freedom Rally to protest the jailing of the Freedom Riders held at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 120th Street and Lenox Avenue, NY, on June 5, 1961.

A civil rights group's mission - and the FBI's coverage of it - provide a perspective into American politics and society.

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Date Range: 1961
Content: 4,285 pages
Source Library: Federal Bureau of Investigation Library

To test President John F. Kennedy’s commitment to civil rights, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) proposed a Journey of Reconciliation. The “Freedom Ride” had an interracial group boarding buses destined for the South. At rest stops, whites would go into blacks-only areas and vice versa. “I think all of us were prepared for as much violence as could be thrown at us,” said CORE director James Farmer. “We were prepared for the possibility of death.”

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As a source for African American history, radical studies, civil rights, political science and more, “We Were Prepared for the Possibility of Death”: Freedom Riders in the South, 1961 delivers a wealth of documents. Scholars and faculty will find surveillance reports, chronologies, witness statements and more. These materials provide unique (and in some cases recently declassified) insight into the Freedom Rides, the Kennedy administration and the segregated South.

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