Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9: "Journey of Reconciliation"

On this date in History ... April 9, 1947:  

Members of the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947. Left to right: Worth
Randle, Wallace Nelson, Ernest Bromley, 
James Peck
, Igal Roodenko,
Bayard Rustin
, Joseph Felmet, George Houser and Andrew Johnson.

Sixteen men (eight white and eight black) begin a 2-week “Journey of Reconciliation” to challenge segregation laws on interstate buses in the South.  

Inspired by the Supreme Court case Morgan v. Virginia (that story to be posted on June 3), which declared segregation on interstate buses to be unconstitutional. Many southern states were blatantly ignoring this ruling. 

The riders suffered several arrests but in North Carolina, the judge showed his particular disdain for the white men taking part in the rides:  "It's about time you Jews from New York learned that you can't come down here bringing your niggers with you to upset the customs of the South. Just to teach you a lesson, I gave your black boys thirty days [on a chain gang], and I give you ninety."

The Journey of Reconciliation achieved a great deal of publicity and was the start of a long campaign of direct action by the Congress of Racial Equality. In February 1948 the Council Against Intolerance in America gave George Houser and Bayard Rustin the Thomas Jefferson Award for the Advancement of Democracy for their attempts to bring an end to segregation in interstate travel.

Sources include:

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