A split within the movement

The Freedom Rides were fifty years ago this month.

They weren’t universally seen as a good idea within the movement at the time – many people thought they were too much: too much of a deliberate provocation, too likely to trigger violence, too risky.

Well – they were a deliberate provocation, made by doing something that was entirely legal, and unexceptionable (to wit, making use of a public commercial facility). They did trigger violence, but the violence finally, after a lot of chickenshit footdragging by the Kennedy brothers, in turn triggered a federal response: when a mob attacked a church full of civil rights activists in Montgomery and pinned them inside, in fear of being burned alive, martial law was declared and federal troops arrived to prevent a mob victory.

The tame safe moderate unprovocative quiet thing is not always the best thing to do.

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