• WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a mass meeting held at First Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonviolence during a riot outside, Montgomery, Alabama, 1961 May 21.

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    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a mass meeting held at First Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonviolence during a riot outside, Montgomery, Alabama, 1961 May 21
    • Date
    • 1961 May 21
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • In this WSB newsfilm clip from First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on May 21, 1961, participants at a mass meeting sing a hymn, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonviolence while a riot goes on outside. The clip begins with the audi... more
      In this WSB newsfilm clip from First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on May 21, 1961, participants at a mass meeting sing a hymn, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonviolence while a riot goes on outside. The clip begins with the audience singing "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." As Dr. King stands at the podium, a man takes his picture. King informs the audience that members of the National Guard are on their way to Montgomery to protect the church from the mob outside and asks people to stay inside the church. He also encourages the audience to remain nonviolent to achieve "the moral victory." less
    • Rights
    • Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a mass meeting held at First Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonvi... more
      Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of a mass meeting held at First Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encourages nonviolence during a riot outside, Montgomery, Alabama, 1961 May 21, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0781, 00:00/01:19, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga less
    • Partner
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection; Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

On May 4, 1961, an interracial group of student activists under the auspices of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) departed Washington D.C. by bus to test local compliance throughout the Deep South with two Supreme Court rulings banning segregated accommodations on interstate buses and in bus terminals serving interstate routes. The "Freedom Riders" traveled with limited difficulty through North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina, but encountered violent resistance in Alabama. A mob of angry whites firebombed one of their buses outside Anniston, and riders were severely beaten in Birmingham and Montgomery.

Although injuries prevented many original participants from continuing, activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) volunteered to ride in their place, and the reconstituted freedom riders traveled under federal protection to Mississippi where they were arrested and jailed. At the behest of the Kennedy administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued an order on November 1, 1961 banning segregation in all facilities under its jurisdiction.

The following December, a group of freedom riders traveled by train from Atlanta to Albany, Georgia, to test the ruling. Their arrest by local authorities helped to invigorate the Albany Movement, later regarded as one of the most significant developments of the civil rights era.