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Eric Etheridge: Breach of Peace

Breach of Peace is a book about the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders, a photo-history told in images old and new. The book features new portraits of 80 Riders and the mug shots of all 328 Riders arrested in Jackson that year, along with excerpts of interviews with the featured Riders.

In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred Americans — blacks and whites, men and women — entered Southern bus and train stations to challenge the segregated waiting rooms, lunch counters and bathrooms. The Supreme Court had ruled that such segregation was illegal, and the Riders were trying to force the federal government to enforce that decision.

Though there were Freedom Rides across the South, Jackson soon became the campaign’s primary focus. More than 300 Riders were arrested there and quickly convicted of breach of peace–a law many Southern states and cities had put on the books for just such an occasion. The Riders then compounded their protest by refusing bail. “Flll the jails!” was their cry, and they soon did. Mississippi responded by transferring them to Parchman, the state’s infamous Delta prison farm, for the remainder of their time behind bars, usually about six weeks.

A few days after the last group of Riders were arrested in Jackson, on September 13, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued new regulations, mandating an end to segregation in all bus and train stations.

Here’s more about this book .