By Glenn Bryant
This article was published in the Boston University News in 1961. The Daily Free Press was established in 1970.
Rev. Gill Avery and Judith Frieze, recent participants in the Freedom Rides, revealed their motivations and purposes in a talk at Oxnam lounge, THEO, Sunday night as part of SCA’s evening program.
Judith Frieze, graduate of Smith College now enrolled in the University’s graduate school, began the discussion with a brief history of the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) which sponsored the Freedom Rides last summer. Originally CORE sponsored small movements toward integration but has taken an avid part in almost completely supporting the Freedom Rides and sit-ins.
The philosophy of the Freedom Riders is that of non-violence, she said. Members are not allowed to defend themselves in any way, hoping in this way to show how deeply they believe in their cause. “Violence only breeds more violence,” said Judy.
The purpose of the first freedom ride was to dramatize still-existent segregation in spite of federal integration laws. Judith Frieze stated that the freedom riders could have posted bail at any time, but remained in jail … “innocents in maximum security because we had walked into the waiting room of a bus terminal in a mixed racial grouping.”
As a result of this action and its publicity, the Interstate Commerce commission passed a law stating that after Nov. 1, segregation in bus terminals will be punishable by fine.
She stated that Mississippi’s intent was to break CORE financially by inserting various, expensive legal means in prosecuting the riders. CORE’s funds have been greatly depleted but it is continuing to support these movements.
The motivations of the 322 Freedom Riders differ with the individual, Judy said, “My motivation was what I felt the Freedom Rides would accomplish.” She continued, “This country is fighting for freedom and equality in Berlin and the United Nations for people all over the world while 10 percent of its own population is not free. Our pledge of allegiance says “Liberty and justice for all.” Why don’t we live up to our principles and clean up our own back yard?”
Rev. Gil Avery, Episcopal clergy-man, spoke on the Freedom Riders in relation to the church. Twenty-eight clergymen met at a convention in Michigan, all feeling that segregation did not exist in society alone, but was quite acute in the church as well,” he said. He stated the primary emphasis was to focus attention in the church and give sympathy and support to the Freedom Riders’ heroic action.
He said that the reaction of the southern white church was that of shock, anger, and confusion. Rev. Avery stated that the southern clergy feel they thave to be willing to be crucified before segregation can be accomplished.
The reaction of the nortern church was strange, mainly because of widespread indifference, he said. Some people said thank you and felt that it needed to be done, that the church needed to be involved in this critical problem.
Rev. Avery also stated there has never been any real communication between the Negro and the white man in the South because of the tremendous intimidation under which the Negroes live. The rides and sit-ins have givent he Negro a way of expressing himself. The problem is in the fact that the white man doesn’t like what he hears.
He mentioned that fund raising groups will be on campus sometime during the coming year to help support CORE.