As Mississippi honored the 1961 Freedom Riders on the 50th anniversary of the movement that changed America forever, one among them returning was Thomas Armstrong, the first to join the Rides in his native Mississippi.
Armstrong led more than 30 students from Tougaloo College, Jackson State University and local high schools in going to the bus terminal in Jackson and boldly entering the white waiting room, refusing to leave. They were all arrested and jailed, as police were locking up freedom riders coming into the state.
Who were the Freedom Riders and what did they do? You can find a number of fascinating (and chilling) files kept by Mississippi’s secret spy force, the Sovereignty Commission. Here are a few links to get you started …
Of course, there are hundreds of records about this sordid part of Civil Rights history in these files. Many, truly fascinating. BTW, I have written extensively about the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission in my book, Where Rebels Roost; Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited.”