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
Frank James, co-founder of Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Frank James Lupper, his and Thomas Robinson’s lawsuit became one of first sit-in cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
Worth Long, sit-in demonstration leader and integral player in the desegregation of downtown Little Rock businesses
Bill Hansen, director of SNCC’s Arkansas Project from 1962-1966
Thomas Robinson, his and Frank James Lupper’s lawsuit became one of first sit-in cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
More about the Freedom Riders
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…
More about SNCC
In Little Rock on March 10, 1960, around 50 Philander Smith College students marched from campus to the F. W. Woolworth’s store on 4th and Main streets and asked for service at its segregated lunch counter. Among them were 2011 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage honoree, Frank James,, four others – Charles Parker,, Vernon Mott, Eldridge Davis, and Chester Briggs who were arrested when they refused to leave after being confronted by the store manager and city police. They were later bailed out by the local Little Rock branch of the NAACP.
The use of sit-ins as a form of protest had been used civil rights organizations like the Congress of Racial Equality long before the 1960s. Sit-ins were held at lunch counters in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942 and in Kansas and Oklahoma in 1958.
Read more about the Arkansas chapter of SNCC…
Photo captions: Top - Freedom Riders arrive in Little Rock, Ark. July 10, 1961. Bottom: SNCC members participating in protest in Arkansas. (Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas Archives, Fayetteville.)