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Reverse Freedom Rides | Amistad Research Center

Name: Reverse Freedom Rides

Historical Note: The Reverse Freedom Rides of 1962 were a deliberate parody of the Freedom Rides organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the previous year. Also called the Freedom Rides North, African American "participants" in the Reverse Freedom Rides were offered free one-way transportation and the promise of free housing and guaranteed employment to Northern cities. George Singelmann of the Greater New Orleans Citizens' Council orchestrated the Reverse Freedom Rides, which served as the Citizens' Councils' means of testing the sincerity of Northern liberals' quest for equality for African Americans. This attempt to embarrass Northern critics of the Citizens' Councils was a way of, in Singelmann's words, "telling the North to put up or shut up." Public outcry against the Reverse Freedom Rides was swift and direct, with groups such as the Urban League of Greater New Orleans leading the chorus of disapproval. WDSU Radio released a statement in April 1962,that typifies the response: "WDSU believes the Freedom Bus North movement is sick sensationalism bordering on moronic." Although the Reverse Freedom Rides began in New Orleans, many also originated from other Southern cities, most notably Little Rock, Arkansas. The first group sent by the Citizens' Council arrived in New York by bus on April 21, 1962, and consisted of one large family from Algiers, Louisiana. Numbers for subsequent "freedom rides" to the Northeast and some Western cities were overstated by the segregationist leaders.
Note Author: Andrew Salinas

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