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Program Information
 Hidden Histories 
 A deal to save their lives
 Jack R. Johnson
 Hidden Histories  
Parchman Farm has probably inspired some of the best r & b coming out of Mississippi. That quintessentially southern place, part prison, part cotton field, became the final destination for Freedom Riders who had to be shielded by the National Guard from local mobs as they made their route through the south. Alarmed by the violence of the mobs, President Kennedy dispatched his brother, then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to strike a deal with the state officials from Mississippi to ensure that the Freedom Riders would have safe passage to Jackson. In exchange for their safe passage (the National Guard would escort the Freedom Riders into the state), the Freedom Riders would be arrested on their arrival in Jackson.
Over 350 of the Freedom Riders were placed behind bars and given a six-month sentence for “breach of peace” violations. Rather than posting bail immediately however, the Freedom Riders chose to remain in jail for forty days, the maximum amount of time one could remain in jail before losing their right of appeal. As the local jails filled up, many of the Freedom Riders were transferred to the newly built maximum-security facility at Parchman Farm located 140 miles outside of Jackson.
At Parchman the conditions worsened. Men and women prisoners were segregated from each other by race and sex. The female population was housed in the death row wing of the prison many were subjected to humiliating body searches and allowed no time for exercise.
The Freedom Riders responded to their harsh treatment by singing freedom songs from their cells. When the guards demanded they stop their singing, the Freedom Riders refused. As punishment for their insolence, the guards took away their blankets. The riders were forced to sleep on the, hard steel floor.”
Nights were especially cold.

  Download Program Podcast
00:02:00 English 2011-05-27
 Home Studio
  View Script
Freedom Riders, part 2, Parchman Farm  00:02:00  128Kbps mp3
(2MB) Mono
46 Download File...