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Program Information
 Hidden Histories 
 The secret deal to save their lives
 Weekly Program
 Jack R. Johnson
 Hidden Histories  
50 years ago today, under a secret arrangement with the Federal government put in place by Robert F. Kennedy, Nashville Stud ent Freedom Riders boarded buses from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, MiSsissippi, under National Guard escort. The National Guard escort was in response to a series of violent incidents that threatened the Freedom riders, the most serious of which occurred on Mother’s Day, May, 14th, 1961 when the riders were met by an angry mob (dressed in their Sunday finest as if they’d just come from church) in Anniston, Alabama. Due to the ferocity of the mob, the bus decided not to stop at the station and it quickly left. But a member of the angry band had slashed the bus’s tires at the station. A few miles outside of Anniston the tires began to deflate and the bus was forced to pull over. As the bus driver fled, a mob of men who had been following the bus got out of their cars and surrounded the stricken bus. From somewhere in the crowd a firebomb was thrown inside the bus and exploded. As the Freedom Riders tried to escape the smoke and flames they found they could not as the exit doors were blocked by the surging mob. Just then one of the gas tanks exploded on the bus and the mob rushed back allowing the Freedom Riders to push the doors open and escape. As they exited the burning bus, the Freedom Riders rushed outside still choking from the thick smoke and were beaten by the waiting vigilantes. As lead pipes and baseball bats were swung, only an onboard undercover agent prevented the Freedom Riders from being lynched that day as he fired his gun into the air. Later that same day the Freedom Riders were beaten a second time as they arrived in Birmingham, Alabama. Kennedy decided to act.

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00:02:00 English 2011-05-27
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