Desegregating America’s Bus Terminals
In 1961, just days after an Alabama mob tried to burn down a church filled with Freedom Riders and their supporters, Attorney General Robert Kennedy formally petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to end segregation in the nation’s bus terminals.
It was a bold and innovative step by the young Attorney General, since the ICC was not subject to orders by the president or his administration. After several months of persistent effort, the ICC order was issued on September 22, 1961. The WHITES ONLY and NO NEGROES signs came down at bus stations throughout the United States. It was a historic moment made possible by the bravery of Freedom Riders and the unshakeable resolve of Robert Kennedy.
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“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy