22
Aug
2013

UNDAUNTED:  RARE AND CLASSIC PHOTOS OF MLK AND THE FREEDOM RIDERS, 1961

It’s mid-spring, 1961.  In the kitchen of a safe house in Montgomery, Ala., Martin Luther King Jr. is tense.  In the house with the 32-year-old civil rights leader are 17 students — fresh-faced college kids who, moved by King’s message of racial equality, are literally putting their lives at risk. These are the groundbreaking practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience known as the Freedom Riders, and over the past two harrowing weeks, as they’ve traveled across the state on integrated buses, their numbers have diminished at every stop in the face of arrests, mob beatings — even fire-bombings.

Right there along with the riders, capturing the mood of the movement as it swung between exhilarated and exhausted, thrilled and terrified, was 26-year-old LIFE photographer Paul Schutzer, who covered the landmark Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom march and rally in Washington, D.C., four years earlier and witnessed firsthand the courage and determination Dr. King inspired in his followers. (Filed along with Schutzer’s Pilgrimage photos in LIFE’s archives are notes from the magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Henry Suydam Jr., citing the energy and excitement swirling around King even then: “At the end of the ceremonies, a couple of hundred people pressed feverishly on Reverend King — seeking pictures, autographs, handshakes, or just a close look. The jam got so heavy that he had to be escorted to safety by police.”)

Here, five decades after the Freedom Riders put their lives on the line for dignity and equal rights, LIFE.com presents photos — most of which never ran in LIFE — made by Schutzer during that heady era in American history. Here are images charting a pivotal moment in the historic journey of Dr. King himself and in the nation-changing movement he led, from the monuments of Washington to the highways, rural roads, churches and bus depots of the Deep South.

Posted 1 year ago10,473 notesFiled Under: #history #martin luther king jr #50th anniversary of freedom riders #equality #freedom riders #life.com
  1. diaboliluvsu reblogged this from kiedisfreak
  2. kiedisfreak reblogged this from montanabohemian
  3. salutethemayor reblogged this from montanabohemian
  4. earsblind reblogged this from sillydreamshighway
  5. sillydreamshighway reblogged this from itsplaintosee
  6. itsplaintosee reblogged this from deskiciado
  7. unacuentaparalela reblogged this from ulvsblak
  8. spockone reblogged this from deskiciado
  9. weona-pajera-mode-on reblogged this from ulvsblak
  10. ulvsblak reblogged this from deskiciado
  11. deskiciado reblogged this from amipunkyet
  12. signedraee reblogged this from youngblackandvegan
  13. juice90s-80s reblogged this from montanabohemian
  14. itsnoparty reblogged this from montanabohemian
  15. grazeuponmybootytabi reblogged this from montanabohemian
  16. permanent-temporarily reblogged this from piranha-tot
  17. piranha-tot reblogged this from montanabohemian
  18. buttered-toes reblogged this from perceipi
  19. beneduct-cumnberbatch reblogged this from chrspratt
  20. voinum reblogged this from deforest-of-kelley
  21. thelabrinthicallhome reblogged this from the-dalek-in-221b
  22. graspingair reblogged this from perceipi
  23. nonexistent-realities reblogged this from lexiintardiswithsherlockandcas