2011 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Honorees: 1961 Little Rock Freedom Riders
Rev. Benjamin Elton Cox, one of the original 13 riders on the very first Congress of Racial Equality Freedom Ride in 1961
Bliss Ann Malone, public school teacher in St. Louis, Missouri
John Curtis Raines, a pastor from Long Island, New York
Annie Lumpkin, an 18-year-old student
Janet Reinitz, a homemaker and artist
The 1961 Little Rock Freedom Riders became five of the first ten honorees to be honored with a plaque commemorating their role in the civil rights movement in Arkansas. Five sit-in demonstrators from the 1960s were also honored during the 50th anniversary celebration of The Freedom Riders arrival in Little Rock July 10, 2011. In addition, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the site of the old Trailways Bus Station (Louisiana and Markham), where the Freedom Riders arrived in 1961.
On July 10, 1961, five Freedom Riders from the St. Louis branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Benjamin Elton Cox, Annie Lumpkin, Bliss Ann Malone, John Curtis Raines, and Janet Reinitz came on interstate buses to Little Rock to test the U.S. Supreme Court’s Boynton v. Virginia (1960) decision that ordered the integration of bus terminals.
When they arrived at the Mid-West Trailways bus station at Markham and Louisiana Streets, a crowd of 300-400 people watched as the five Freedom Riders were arrested. They were later released from jail and continued their journey to New Orleans.
The Freedom Rides led to the desegregation of bus terminal facilities in Little Rock and other cities by order of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) on November 1, 1961.
Read more at The History of the Little Rock Freedom Riders…