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Any "best of" list must surely be subjective. This one is no different. Choosing the best photographs of the year is an enormously difficult task, with many terrific photographs slipping through the cracks. But with major news events as a guide, and with single images I fell in love with throughout the year forcing their way into the edit, I look at my favorite pictures from the first four months of the year. Two main stories dominated headlines in the first part of the year: the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the rising of the Arab Spring. The protests in the Middle East would spread to Greece, Spain, and eventually inspire the Occupy movement in Western nations. Other stories included a historic wave of tornados in the U.S., a Royal wedding in London, and the creation of the world's newest nation in South Sudan. Images from the rest of the year will follow in posts later this week. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)
A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)

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Weather around the world was the story of the past week. Flooding and major storms around the world caused problems for many. A neighborhood is submerged by flood water from the Souris River Thursday, June 23, 2011 in Minot, N.D. Officials in North Dakota’s fourth-largest city said Thursday they had done all they could to protect critical infrastructure from the rising Souris River as it headed toward a record flood.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) sits with former South African President Nelson Mandela at his home June 21, 2011 in Houghton, South Africa. The first lady, along with her daughters and mother, will be traveling in Africa from June 21 to the 26.

Rebel fighters fire a Grad rocket at the front line west of Misrata, Libya, Monday, June 20, 2011. Libya’s government said a NATO airstrike west of Tripoli early Monday destroyed a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Moammar Gadhafi, killing at least 15 people, including three children. The alliance said the strike hit a “command and control” center.

 June 24, 2011

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A musician of Panama's Big Band orchestra, practices before a reenactment of a 1950 salsa hall as a tribute to famous late Puerto Rican musician Tito Puente in Panama City, Thursday, June 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) #

 June 24, 2011

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Christian Riguccini of Australia competes during the Shark Island Challenge at Shark Island, near Cronulla on June 17, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) #

 June 24, 2011

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Belarusian school boys hold torches as they stand in front of one of the most important Soviet WWII war monuments marking the heroic resistance of the Red Army against the surprise German attack during a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Nazi invasion in the town of Brest, 360 kilometers (223 miles) southwest of Minsk, Belarus, early Wednesday, June 22, 2011. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Brest Fortress defenders contained Nazi troops for a month. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #

 June 24, 2011

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This combination of 10 pictures put together in photoshop and taken on June 15, 2011 in the National Park of the volcano Teide (3718m of altitude) shows the moon during a total lunar eclipse, on the Spanish canary island of Tenerife. Astronomers in parts of Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Australia were hoping for clear skies on Wednesday to enjoy a total lunar eclipse, the first of 2011 and the longest in nearly 11 years. A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth casts its shadow over the Moon. The lunar face can sometimes turn reddish, coppery-brown or orange, tinged by light from the Sun that refracts as it passes through our atmosphere. AFP PHOTO/ DESIREE MARTIN #

 June 24, 2011

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Children jump over concrete slabs of the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) #

 June 24, 2011

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A rickshaw puller wades through a water-logged street due to heavy rain in Dimapur in northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, Friday, June 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Sorei Mahong) #

 June 24, 2011

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People play in the sea against the backdrop of merchant ship MV Wisdom which ran aground at Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai, India, Friday, June 17, 2011. The ship went adrift after breaking loose while being towed from Colombo to Alang in Gujarat, for being broken as scrap. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade) #

 June 24, 2011

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David Gaviria (700) runs over Tomas Puerta (12) on the first lap of the Motorcycle Superstore.com SuperSport R1 race at Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, June 18, 2011 in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Bernard Troncale) #

 June 24, 2011

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Heavy storm clouds darken the sky as rain and wind gusts blow over downtown Omaha, Neb., Monday, June 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver) #

 June 24, 2011

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In this June 20, 2011 photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, people transfer livestocks in Nubu township of Lanxi city, east China's Zhejiang Province. More than 40 miles (70 kilometers) of dikes are in danger of overflowing in an eastern Chinese province where floods have caused $1.2 billion in losses, authorities said Monday as the country neared a critical point in battling seasonal rains. Heavy rains pounded Zhejiang province over the weekend, and the level of a river that passes through Lanxi city has risen sharply, said Zhao Fayuan, deputy director of the provincial flood control headquarters. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Liang Zhen) #

 June 24, 2011

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In this handout from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) sits with former South African President Nelson Mandela at his home June 21, 2011 in Houghton, South Africa. The first lady, along with her daughters and mother, will be traveling in Africa from June 21 to the 26. (Photo by Debbie Yazbek/Nelson Mandela Foundation via Getty Images) #

 June 24, 2011

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The sun illuminates clouds early Thursday morning June 16, 2011, behind a barn east of Salina, Kansas. Later in the morning thunder storms dropped heavy rain in the area. (AP Photo/Salina Journal, Tom Dorsey) #

 June 24, 2011

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In this photo taken Monday, June 20, 2011, children play on a swing n Haldia, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Allahabad, India. Young women and children rejoice the monsoon season by tying temporary rope swings on tree branches across many parts of India. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

 June 24, 2011

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People light candles near a church in memory of WW II victims, early morning, at the time the Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union 70 years ago, outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) #

 June 24, 2011

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Thai "Red Shirt" demonstrators gather during a "cursing" ceremony against the government and the rival party Wednesday June, 22, 2011 at the Erwan Shrine in downtown Bangkok, Thailand. The "Red Shirts" also gathered to remember those killed in last year's massive street protests against the government. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) #

 June 24, 2011

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An opponent to gay marriage holds a sign outside the Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, June 23, 2011. Dozens of gay couples are planning to converge on Albany Thursday to witness what would be a historic vote to legalize gay marriage in New York (AP Photo/Mike Groll) #

 June 24, 2011

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Hundreds of people take part in a synchronized mass exercise during a ceremony of a government campaign to promote physical exercises at Beijing's Olympic Forest Park in China, Thursday, June 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan) #

 June 24, 2011

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A neighborhood is submerged by flood water from the Souris River Thursday, June 23, 2011 in Minot, N.D. Officials in North Dakota's fourth-largest city said Thursday they had done all they could to protect critical infrastructure from the rising Souris River as it headed toward a record flood. (AP Photo/The Grand Forks Herald, Christian Randolph) #

 June 24, 2011

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Indian weaver K. Saritha makes thread from silk yarn in a small scale factory at Gattuppal village, 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Hyderabad, in southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. India faces a shortage of 10,000 tons of silk per year, as a result it imports more than 8,000 tons from China every year recently, while it domestically produces around 22,000 tons of the staple, according to local newspapers and textile industry. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) #

 June 24, 2011

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A Filipino boy stands behind a vehicle to keep from the cold wind in a heavy downpour in Manila, Philippines on Thursday June 23, 2011. Tropical Storm Meari will be set to make its presence known as it strengthens into a Category 1 typhoon sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. It will continue on its northwestward to the northeast of the Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) #

 June 24, 2011

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Flood affected people queue up to collect relief material at a distribution center in Ghatal, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north west of Kolkata, India, Thursday, June 23, 2011. Monsoon storms in eastern India have damaged homes and flooded parts of Kolkata, killing at least seven people.(AP Photo/Bikas Das) #

 June 24, 2011

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A model wears a creation by Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck as part of his Spring/Summer 2012 fashion collection presented in Paris, Friday June 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) #

 June 24, 2011

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An Egyptian and Japanese team of scientists use a pulley system to lift the first of 41 16-ton limestone slabs to reveal fragments of the ancient ship of King Khufu next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt, Thursday, June 23, 2011. Archaeologists have begun the excavation process of a 4,500-year old wooden boat encased underground next to the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egyptologists announced Thursday.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) #

 June 24, 2011

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Riot police huddle together after firing tear gas, as a lone man continues to hold up a sign protesting proposed constitutional changes, outside the National Assembly in central Dakar, Senegal Thursday, June 23, 2011. Senegalese police lobbed tear gas at thousands of protesters who amassed in the capital Thursday to oppose proposed changes to the constitution that critics said would benefit longtime president Abdoulaye Wade and his family. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 June 24, 2011

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Flames are seen over homes in Sierra Vista, Ariz., on Thursday June 16, 2011. The elements are coming together to create dangerous fire conditions in southern and southeastern Arizona. The biggest wildfire in state history is closing in on a half million acres burned. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, Greg Bryan) #

 June 24, 2011

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An Arab boy jumps into the Mediterranean sea from the ancient wall surrounding the old city of Acre, northern Israel, Sunday, June 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) #

 June 24, 2011

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Relatives of inmates of El Rodeo I and II penitentiaries cry outside the prisons compounds in Guatire, outskirts of Caracas, June 17, 2011. At least seven people were injured in a vast police operation aimed at taking control of El Rodeo I and II prisons, where in recent days, there were at least 22 killed in a gunbattle, government sources said. AFP Photo/Leo RAMIREZ #

 June 24, 2011

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Flood waters cover highway 159, Wednesday June 22, 2011, in Big Lake, Mo. near Rulo Neb. Missouri river flooding forced residents from Big lake earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver) #

 June 24, 2011

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U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is seen in silhouette as she speaks at Regina Mundi Church and addresses the Young African Women Leaders Forum in a Soweto township, Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool) #

 June 24, 2011

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People ride bicycles on the banks of river Ganges as monsoon clouds dot the sky in Allahabad, India, Wednesday, June 22, 2011. Monsoon rains that hits India usually from June to September are crucial for farmers whose crops feed hundreds of millions of people. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

 June 24, 2011

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Lightning streaks across the sky above a home Tuesday, June 21, 2011, in Saukville, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) #

 June 24, 2011

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A reveler carries a woman on his back as she reacts while he walks on the burning embers during the night of San Juan in San Pedro Manrique, Spain, Friday, June 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) #

 June 24, 2011

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Rebel fighters fire a Grad rocket at the front line west of Misrata, Libya, Monday, June 20, 2011. Libya's government said a NATO airstrike west of Tripoli early Monday destroyed a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Moammar Gadhafi, killing at least 15 people, including three children. The alliance said the strike hit a "command and control" center. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #

 June 24, 2011

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A Eurofighter Typhoon performs its demonstration flight, on the first day of the Paris air show, at Le Bourget airport, Monday June 20, 2011.(AP Photo/Francois Mori) #

 June 24, 2011

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A reveler takes part in the Gay Pride Parade in Lisbon Saturday, June 18, 2011. (AP Photo/ Francisco Seco) #

 June 24, 2011

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Some 140 creations by Japanese hat artist Akio Hirata are displayed by designer Oki Sato during a hat exhibition at a Tokyo hall Saturday, June 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) #

 June 24, 2011

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The pier of Puerto Arauco at Nahuel Huapi Lake is seen covered by sand and volcanic ash from the Chilean Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Villa La Angostura, southern Argentina, Friday, June 17, 2011. The volcano started erupting on June 4 after remaining dormant for decades. (AP Photo/Federico Grosso) #

 June 24, 2011

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Armed tribesmen loyal to Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, the head of the powerful Hashid tribe, guard inside the destroyed house of al-Ahmar in Sanaa, Yemen Thursday, June 16, 2011. Yemen's leader of nearly 33 years Ali Abdullah Saleh has held onto power in the face of massive protests demanding his ouster since February, though some of his top aides, military commanders, Cabinet ministers and diplomats have defected to the protesters' side in recent months. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed) #

 June 24, 2011

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A tree stands in a field as rain clouds pass by near the eastern German city of Dresden on June 20.2011. Germany is experiencing very changeable weather of wet and sunny spells at the moment. AFP PHOTO / ARNO BURGI #

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In 1944, a 27-year-old black woman named Irene Morgan boarded a Greyhound bus in Gloucester, Virginia to return home to Baltimore, Maryland after visiting her mother. She took a seat in the “colored section” near the back of the bus but when some white riders boarded the bus and needed a seat, she was told to stand. Morgan refused and the driver drove straight to the town jail where a Sheriff boarded the bus and arrested her. During her trail, where she represented herself, Morgan refused to plead guilty, saying she was traveling on an interstate bus and she was not subject to state laws mandating segregation.

Eventually, with representation from the NAACP, Irene Morgan vs. The Commonwealth of Virginia was brought before the US Supreme Court. The court ruled in Morgan’s favor, striking down segregated seating in interstate travel. Despite this ruling, Southern states refused to integrate interstate travel, preserving separate waiting rooms, restrooms, food counters and bus and train seating. In the decades that followed, civil rights activists began testing the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s ruling, leading up to the first “official” Freedom Riders in 1961.

The Freedom Riders were mostly college students, blacks and whites, who set out on Greyhound and Trailways buses across the South to test a U.S. Supreme Court decision banning segregation in interstate transportation. That meant no more separate waiting rooms or water fountains designated for white and colored.

After one bus was firebombed near Anniston and the Ku Klux Klan threatened and beat Freedom Riders in Birmingham, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy secured a promise from Patterson to have state troopers protect the group’s bus from Birmingham to Montgomery. City police were supposed to take up the job once they crossed the city line.

Patterson kept his word, with state trooper cars and a helicopter guarding the bus.

But when they reached Montgomery’s Greyhound station, police were not there. Instead, an angry crowd fueled by Klansmen beat them, journalists and a Justice Department official – John Seigenthaler, later a well-known newspaper editor – after he came to the riders’ aid.

Freedom Rider Catherine Burks-Brooks of Birmingham, now 71, said one scene will stay with her forever, revealing the depth of hatred on their attackers’ faces and in their words.

“To see the expressions on white women’s faces screaming, ‘Kill the niggers. Kill the niggers.’ That sticks with me,” she said.

Follow their story below in photographs.

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

1

Police Lt. Beavers Armstrong places a segregation sign in front of the Illinois Central Railroad Jan. 9, 1956, after the railroad removed segregation signs from waiting rooms in compliance with an Interstate Commerce Commission order. Mississippi State law requires segregated facilities at rail depots so Jackson, Miss. police will enforce the state law. The sign reads, "Waiting Room for White Only." (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Years before the Freedom Riders boarded buses on May 4, 1961, bus integration laws were being tested in the South. Six days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery city buses must integrate, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and others challenged the law in Birmingham, Ala., by joining white passengers on a city bus, Dec. 26, 1956. Shuttlesworth boarded the bus hours after a bomb exploded inside his Collegeville, Ala., house. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Robert Adams) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, right, is stopped before entering the whites only waiting room at the Bus Terminal March 6, 1957, in Birmingham, Ala. This photo was made one day after the Alabama Public Service Commission ruled that the waiting rooms must remain segregated. Shuttlesworth informed the media of his plans to integrate the waiting rooms and was followed by reporters, photographers and a white mob estimated at more than 100. After being told that he was not wanted inside, Shuttlesworth replied: "It's not up to you to tell me where to go." ( AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Robert Adams) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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After years of challenging bus segregation by various civil rights groups in the South, CORE (Congress of racial Equality) members from Washington, DC decided to test the enforcement of the Supreme Court's anti-segregation rulings on interstate travel. Members of an interracial group pose in Washington, with a map of a route they planned to take to test segregation in bus terminal restaurants and rest rooms in the South, May 4, 1961. From left are: Edward Blankenheim, Tucson, Ariz.; James Farmer, New York City; Genevieve Hughes, Chevy Chase, Md.; the Rev. B. Elton Cox, High Point, N.C., and Henry Thomas, St. Augustine, Fla. They are all members of CORE, the organization sponsoring the trip. The original group of thirteen freedom riders (seven black, six white) left Washington, DC, bound for New Orleans on two buses, a Greyhound and a Trailways bus, with stops in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. (AP Photo/Byron Rollins) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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The first couple days of the trip for the Freedom Riders, with stops in Virginia and North and South Carolina were relatively uneventful. Several white men attacked members of the group in Rock Hill, South Carolina but the fight was quickly broken up by police. When the buses stopped in Atlanta, Georgia, they were greeted by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. King warned the leaders that he had heard of Klan members planning something at the next stop in Anniston, Alabama. On Sunday, May 15, 1961, as the Greyhound bus carrying the Freedom Riders pulled into the Anniston station, a group of white men surrounded the bus. One unidentified white man sat in front of Greyhound bus to prevent it from leaving the station while the others broke bus windows and punctured the bus bus tires shouting, "Let's kill these niggers and nigger-lovers." (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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After the bus left the Anniston station, a car swerved ahead on the highway and began weaving from side to side to prevent the bus from getting by. The tires, punctured by the mob at the station, went flat. Another mob gathered around the stranded bus, breaking more windows. Someone in the mob threw a fire bomb into the bus, setting it ablaze with the riders inside. The mob barricaded themselves against the bus door, preventing the riders from escaping. Believing the fire was about to cause an explosion in the gas tank, the mob backed off, allowing the riders to pour out of the burning bus. The mob then began attacking the Freedom Riders until Highway Patrolmen arrived to disperse the mob. (AP Photo/str) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Continuing display of Ku Klux Klan signs on U.S. highways in violation of federal regulations, the American Veterans Committee charges, typifies the wide-open activities of racists that erupted recently in the attack on Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Ala. Display of signs, such as this one photographed on U.S. Highway 31 outside of Montgomery violates the regulations of the Bureau of Public Roads, U.S. Dept. of Commerce. (AP Photo/American Veterans Committee) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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After the Greyhound was burned outside Anniston, Alabama, the Trailways bus continued on to the Birmingham station, unaware of the Greyhound's fate. Birmingham, run by the head of the Police Department, Bull Connor, had what most believed to be the worse race relations of any city in the country. Connor had made an agreement with the KKK to give the Klan time to attack the Freedom Riders at the bus station before the police would arrive to break up the mob. As the buses pulled into the station and the first Freedom Riders debarked, the mob attacked. After the Klanmen began to brutally beat the riders, photographer Tommy Langston took this photograph causing the mob to turn on him as well. The mob dispersed and moved down the street about ten minutes after the attack began, right before the police arrived. (AP Photo/Birmingham Post-Herald, Tommy Langston, File) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Eugene "Bull" Connor, former Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner and fiery segregationist, seen here during a speech in to the Tuscaloosa County White Citizens Council in Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 8, 1963. Connor was urging the audience to stay away from the University of Alabama campus June 11, when two African Americans are scheduled to enroll. Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham during the initial Freedom Rides in 1961. Connor became an international symbol of bigotry for his stance on segregation. (AP Photo/William A. Smith) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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As some of the riders were released from the hospital, they gathered at the Greyhound Terminal in the bus station in Birmingham, Ala., on May 15, 1961, to discuss what to do next. At the urging of injured Rider, James Peck, the group decided to continue on their original route but drivers refused to operate the bus for fear of future violence. The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth (center) and Freedom Riders discussed plans after drivers refused to carry them any farther. Surrounding Shuttlesworth, clockwise from left: Ed Blankenheim, kneeling, Charles Person, Ike Reynolds, James Peck, Rev. Benjamin Cox, and two unidentified Freedom Riders. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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With no drivers left to take them anywhere, the Freedom Riders resigned to the fact that they would need to abandon their plans to take buses to New Orleans. The Freedom Riders went to the airport to leave Birmingham. The mob followed the Riders to the airport and someone called in a bomb threat to the airlines. Eventually the Freedom Riders departed the airport and arrived in New Orleans. Here, James Peck, official of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), shows the effects of the beating he received in Birmingham, Ala., as he answers questions at press conference in New York City, May 17, 1961. Press interview took place in the office of the ILGWU (International Ladies Garment Workers Union). (AP Photo/Jacob Harris) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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As the Freedom Riders resigned to the fact that their ride was over, students from Nashville, Tennessee, led by Diane Nash, seen here in a photograph from 1960, gathered to take up where the original Freedom Riders ended their ride. To take up the Freedom Rides, the students had to choose to drop out of school to head to Birmingham. Ten students were chosen to continue the Ride. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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After arriving in Birmingham, the Nashville group of Freedom Riders are promptly arrested by the order of Bull Connor. Connor declared they were being arrested for their own protection. The group was taken to the Birmingham City Jail. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy attempt to reach Gov. John Patterson of Alabama, seen here at a civil rights subcommittee hearing in 1959, to discuss the situation in Birmingham. The Governor refuses to speak with the President. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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On May 18, 1961, in the middle of the night, Bull Connor takes the Freedom Riders out of jail, drives them to the state line and drops the Freedom Riders off near a train station. The Freedom Riders make their way back to the bus station in Birmingham the next day. The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth (pointing), Birmingham integration leader, talks with students in the white waiting room on Wednesday, May 18, 1961 in Birmingham bus station. At right is Mary McCollum, 21, of Snyder, N.Y., a student at Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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s the first group of Freedom Riders made their way back to the station in Birmingham, they meet up with the second group of Riders from Nashville. Both groups become stranded at the station as drivers refuse to board the buses. Here, the group of Freedom Riders from Tennessee stands at the door of a Greyhound bus in Birmingham, Ala., on May 19, 1961. Drivers refused to take the racially mixed group out and after a wait of about two hours the college students tried to board another bus going the same way. The second bus was also cancelled. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Three members of a racially mixed group of college student "freedom riders" catch a nap on May 20, 1961 in the Birmingham bus station after they were thwarted several times in attempts to board busses to Montgomery. Left to right are Susan Hermann, Etta Simpson and Frederick Leonard. All attend college in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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PResident John F. Kennedy sends John Seigenthaler, right, to Alabama to meet with Governor Patterson to ensure the Riders safety. Here, Seigenthaler chats with Charles Meriwether in Montgomery, May 21, 1961. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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As the Freedom Riders' bus leaves Birmingham, it is escorted by police officers and a police helicopter but as the bus approaches the Montgomery bus station, the police and helicopter leave the bus. As the bus arrived at the Montgomery station, a mob awaited them. The mob first went after reporters and cameramen, throwing them down on the ground and smashing their cameras. Then the mob turned on the Freedom Riders. Jim Zwerg, the only white male student among a group of Freedom Riders, stands bloody in Montgomery, AL, May 20, 1961, after he was beaten at the bus station. The police present did nothing. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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The calm on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Ala., May 22, 1961, belies the rioting that took place a mile away after a mob attacked civil rights workers last night. At the end of the street is the State Capitol building. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General and brother of President John F. Kennedy, sits at the Justice Department as he works with aides considering legal measures to be taken following racial violence in Montgomery, Ala., May 21, 1961, Washington, D.C. The riot was touched off by a freedom ride test by mixed whites and African Americans arriving there from Birmingham, Ala., May 20. He ordered a task force of U.S. Marshals and Byron R. White, Deputy U.S. Attorney General, to the area to safeguard federal rights. (AP Photo/Byron Rollins) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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After the Freedom Riders were beaten by a mob at the Montgomery station, federal marshals assembled by Gov. Patterson, wearing bright yellow arm bands, are sent in to keep the calm at the terminal. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Jim Zwerg, a Freedom Rider, recuperates in a hospital on May 21, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. after he was beaten by a mob at the bus station the day before. Zwerg, 21, a ministerial student, suffered cuts and bruises and lost several teeth in the attack. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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The Preseident orders that U.S. Marshals be assembled and sent to keep order in Montgomery. U.S. Marshals, sent to Montgomery, Alabama, May 21, 1961, after a mob attacked integrated bus riders, keep an eye on the bus station with binoculars from atop the federal building. (AP Photo) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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In response to the violence, the Civil Rights leaders call for a meeting at Rev. Ralph Abernathy's Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Among others, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jim Farmer, and Rev. Shuttlesworth, came to support the Freedom Riders. Governor Patterson objects to the Marshals and the Civil Rights leaders coming to Montgomery, telling them to go home and mind their own business. Federal Marshals stood watch in Montgomery, Ala. on May 21, 1961 at the Black First Baptist Church as evening services start. The church, whose pastor was integration leader Rev. Ralph Abernathy, would be the scene for the Freedom Riders to announce their future plans. 1,500 people packed the Church. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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A mob gathers outside the Church about an hour into the meeting. The mob throws rocks into the Church windows and set fire to cars outside the Church. The U.S. Marshals are sent to the Church to protect the people at the meeting but are ill-prepared to do so. Steel helmeted troopers armed with riot guns move in on a mob which gathered at the Black First Baptist Church on May 21, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. where an integration rally was being held. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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A car burns after being overturned on a street a block from Rev. Abernathy's Church on May 21, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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A group of U.S. Marshals stands outside an African American church to hold off a mob during integration rally, May 21, 1961, Montgomery, Ala. In the background an automobile burns after being overturned by the mob. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Several Blacks standing in the back of the congregation during church rally step out the front door after a tear gas bomb exploded nearby during mob violence on May 21, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Meeting attendants are told they cannot leave the Church for fear of what the mob outside would do. The crowd in the first Baptist Church gets comfortable in the pews on May 23, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. as they wait for their own safety to leave an integration rally. A riot swirled around the church. (AP Photo/ Horace Cort) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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(L-R) Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sit pensively after communicating with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy while they await protection from the gathered mob outside the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) #

 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

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Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, following the Montgomery, Ala., race riot situation by phone through the night, talks with Gov. John Patterson after uncontrolled mob set fire to cars in front of church where Civil Rights Movement leaders were meeting, May 22, 1961, Washington, D.C. Tear gas was used to scatter crowds outside. (AP Photo/Bob Schutz) #

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Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy convinces Gov. John Patterson to declare martial law. The National Guard arrives at the Church to ensure the people inside could return home safely. A National Guard sergeant passes out ammunition from a military truck on May 23, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. after martial law was declared. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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A detachment of National Guardsmen patrols past the Black First Baptist Church on May 23, 1961 in Montgomery after martial law was declared following racial riots. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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National Guardsmen button up the tailgate of a military truck as they began taking Blacks home from the beleaguered church on May 22, 1961 in Montgomery. Ala. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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National Guardsmen stand across the street from the Black First Baptist Church in Montgomery on May 22, 1961 at sunrise following a night of racial violence and tension. The city was placed under martial law after mobs of white people threatened an integration meeting in the church. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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After martial law was declared in Montgomery, the National Guard keeps watch over the white waiting room outside the Montgomery bus station on May 22, 1961. (AP PHOTO) #

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Civil rights leaders hold a news conference in Montgomery, Ala. and announce that the Freedom Rides will continue, May 23, 1961. In the foreground is John Lewis, one of the riders who was beaten. Others, left to right: James Farmer, Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Martin Luther King. Lewis wears bandage on head. (AP Photo) #

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., center, African American integration leader, announces that Freedom Riders still plan a bus trip to New Orleans via Mississippi, Tuesday, May 24, 1961, Montgomery, Ala. Left is the Rev. Ralph Abernathy in whose Montgomery home they are shown during the announcement. More riders were reported to be arriving to replace some whose trip ended in a Montgomery bus station race clash a few days before. (AP Photo) #

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Freedom riders stand at the ticket counter of the bus station in Montgomery, Alabama, May 24, 1961 as they purchase tickets to continue their ride through the south. At center is integration leader Rev. Martin Luther King. (AP Photo) #

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Black Freedom Riders have breakfast at a lunch counter in the bus station in Montgomery, Ala., on May 24, 1961. It was the first time the eating facilities were used by Black travelers. The group was preparing to board buses bound for Jackson, Miss., and New Orleans, La., on their Freedom Ride movement to test the effectiveness of the 1960 Supreme Court ruling on integration. (AP Photo) #

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Troops of National Guardsmen stand on duty at the Trailways bus station on May 24, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. as Freedom Riders plan to resume their bus trips through the south. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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A new bus load of Freedom Riders, including four white college professors and three African American students, arrives in Montgomery, Alabama, May 24, 1961, under guard of police and National Guard. Center, with glasses, is Rev. William S. Coffin, Jr. At left, partly hidden, is Dr. David E. Swift, and behind him, wearing glasses, is Dr. John D. Maguire. (AP Photo/Perry Aycock) #

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Freedom riders board a bus on May 24, 1961 in Montgomery. Ala. to resume their ride through the south. (AP Photo) #

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The bus bearing Freedom Riders leaves the Montgomery station as they resume their ride through the South. National Guardsmen stand guard along the route. (AP Photo) #

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(L-R) Freedom Riders Julia Aaron & David Dennis sitting on board an interstate bus as they & 25 others (bkgrd. & unseen) are escorted by 2 Mississippi National Guardsmen holding bayonets, on their way from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Paul Schutzer//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) #

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The Alabama state troopers and National Guardsmen escorted the bus to the Mississippi state line and then departed. Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett warns the Freedom Riders to "obey the laws of Mississippi." On May 24, 1961, as the buses arrived at the Jackson, Mississippi bus station, the Riders debarked and entered the White Waiting Room. Jackson Police Captain, Capt. Ray, was waiting for the Riders and asked them to leave the white waiting room. When the group failed to heed the order they were arrested and taken to the city jail. (AP Photo) #

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Fifteen Freedom Riders that arrived on a second bus in Jackson, Miss., are loaded into a paddy wagon at the bus station, May 24, 1961. They entered the "whites only" waiting room and were arrested for being in violation of state laws. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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A Freedom Rider is shown the way to the paddy wagon in Jackson, May 24, 1961, as a second bus load of the integration supporters arrived. Fifteen in second bus were arrested when they entered the white waiting room of the bus station. After the arrests, Gov. Ross Barnett decides to send the Riders to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi to teach the Riders a lesson. (AP Photo) #

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A view of Parchman Prison's maximum security unit in Parchman, Mississippi is seen Jan. 9, 1962. After their arrival at the prison, the Freedom Riders were subject to strip searches, beating, and hard labor. More Freedom Riders from across the country vow to fill Parchman Prison before giving up the Freedom Rides. (AP Photo) #

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Jack Young, attorney for the 27 Freedom Riders tells newsmen in Jackson, May 26, 1961, that his clients have elected to remain in jail "at least for the present." Additional Freedom Riders from across the country vow to take the place of the jailed original Freedom Riders. (AP Photo/Fred Kaufman) #

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Lucretia Collins, 21, Freedom Rider from Fairbanks, Alaska, walks to a plane in Jackson, May 27, 1961, after being freed from the county jail on $500 bond. (AP Photo) #

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Four Freedom Riders are flanked by newsmen on arrival at airport in New Orleans, Saturday, May 27, 1961, after posting bond in Jackson, MS., where they were arrested with 23 others at an interstate bus station. They are, from left, David Dennis, Doris Jean Castle, Julia Aaron and Jerome Smith. All live or attend school in New Orleans and walked quickly through the airport without incident to a limousine. (AP Photo) #

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Freedom Riders, who were arrested at a bus station walk to the patrol wagon after their arrest, May 28, 1961, Jackson, Miss. A total of nine were taken to city jail. The group is unidentified. (AP Photo/Ferd Kaufman) #

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A policeman searches a Freedom Rider in the white waiting room of the bus station, May 28, 1961, Jackson, Miss. Eight more Riders were arrested when they failed to heed orders to move on. Seated at right are two more of the group, including one white man. (AP Photo/Ferd Kaufman) #

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Patricia Ann Jenkins leaves federal court on May 29, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala after testifying at a hearing on racial violence in Alabama. Miss Jenkins, 18 years old student at Tennessee A&I, was one of the Freedom Riders who escaped a mob during riot at the bus station. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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Robert M. Shelton, an Alabama Ku Klux Klan leader, puts hand to face as he leaves federal courthouse on May 29, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. Shelton is one of many defendants in a federal suit charging lack of protection for bus riders following a racial riot at the station. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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Alabama Adj. Gen. Henry V. Graham, right, thanks his troops on May 29, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. as limited martial rule is lifted. The National Guardsmen were called to duty following mob violence in the wake of arrival of Freedom Riders at the bus station. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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Claude V. Henley, right, gets a handshake from unidentified well wisher as he enters court on May 29, 1961 in Montgomery, Ala. Henley is named in a federal complaint growing out of a bus station race riot. He is charged in city court with assault and battery in the beating of two newsmen. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) #

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Prospective Freedom Riders, a group of nine persons interested in a bus trip from New Orleans to Jackson, Miss., raise their hands for training to become Freedom Riders before Secretary James McCain, center foreground, in New Orleans, May 29, 1961. McCain said any of the group could withdraw and declined individual identification. CORE headquarters has indicated the trip might occur Tuesday to Jackson where 44 "Freedom Riders" have been jailed on arrival by buses from other cities. (AP Photo) #

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A group of the Freedom Riders sit in a truck as they wait to leave for the Hinds County Farm in Jackson, May 29, 1961. Twenty-two of the riders who were left in the county jail were transferred. (AP Photo) #

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James Davis, Florence, S.C., leader of the Freedom Riders that arrived in Jackson, May 30, 1961, asks Capt. J. L. Ray on what charge they are being arrested after they entered the white waiting room at the train station. (AP Photo) #

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Five of the 8 Freedom Riders who were arrested in Jackson, May 31, 1961, are shown as they leave train that brought them from New Orleans. They were arrested when they failed to heed police orders to leave the white waiting room. (AP Photo) #

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Freedom Riders talk with newsmen as they enter the train station in Jackson, May 31, 1961. From top left they are: Charles A. Haynie, Ithaca, N.Y.; Joe Griffith, Ithaca, and Toma Green, Ithaca, top center. James Davis Jr. Front left, and Robert L. Heller, Rockville Center, N.Y., in foreground. All were jailed. (AP Photo) #

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Seven unidentified Freedom Riders, leave Montgomery, Ala., on a Jackson, Miss.-bound Trailways bus, June 2, 1961. There were no incidents in Montgomery, as police were standing by. (AP Photo) #

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Three unidentified white men leave the colored waiting room at Trailways Bus station, June 2, 1961 in Jackson, Miss., where they sat in a desegregation attempt. It was the first time whites used a black waiting room in the Freedom Riders assault upon Mississippi's segregation laws. (AP Photo) #

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This is a June 8, 1961 Jackson Police Department file booking photograph of Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer provided by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History from their "Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission Records" Collection. (AP Photo/Mississippi Department of Archives and History, City of Jackson, File) #

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Four new Freedom Riders sit briefly in a Jackson railroad station in an integrated group before their arrest on breach of peace charges, June 20, 1961, Jackson, Miss. The 14-rider party brought to 131 the number arrested since May 24, as they sought to desegregate transportation facilities. The riders are unidentified. (AP Photo) #

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Three of 10 freedom riders on trial at Tallahassee, Fla., for unlawful assembly confer during a court recess on Thursday, June 22, 1961 in Tallahassee, Fla. The riders were charged following an attempt to integrate the city airport restaurant on June 15-16. Talking are (from left) Rabbi Israel Dresner of Springfield, N.J., one of two Jewish leaders in the group; the Rev. A.L. Hardge of New Britain, Conn., one of three African Americans; and the Rev. Robert Storm of New York City, one of five white protestant ministers. Three Tallahassee integration sympathizers are also on trial. (AP Photo) #

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Arrested for a "breach of the peace," newly arrived Freedom Riders are loaded into the paddy wagon at the bus station in Jackson, MS, June 29, 1961. Unlike Alabama during the first Freedom Rides, Mississippi adopted a policy of preventing attacks on the riders but arresting them. (AP Photo) #

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Freedom Riders from California are held at Harris County jail after refusing to post $500 bonds on unlawful assembly charges in Houston, Texas, on Aug. 11, 1961. The group was arrested at the coffee shop of Houston's Union Station train depot when they tried to get service. Those shown are awaiting transfer from the city jail to the county jail after they were booked. (AP Photo) #

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An unidentified Freedom Rider sticks his head out of a chartered bus window in Jackson, Miss., having arrived from New York, Aug. 14, 1961. These black and white Riders were testing a Supreme Court ruling banning racial segregation on interstate public transportation. (AP Photo) #

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Freedom Riders Levert Taylor, 20, and Glenda Jackson, both of Shreveport, La., are shown with policeman W. L. Copeland at Jackson, MS., Nov. 1, 1961, after their arrest on a breach of peace charge for refusing to move out of the white waiting room at a bus station there. Taylor and Miss Jackson were in Jackson to test the ICC desegregation ruling. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier) #

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Finally, after six months of Freedom Riders being arrested and attacked despite Supreme Court rulings which struck down state segregation laws, the ICC issues an order that bus and rail station segregation signs must come down. In a final act of defiance, Police Chief George H. Guy poses beside the "White waiting room" sign posted outside the Greyhound bus terminal in McComb, Mississippi, on Nov. 2, 1961. The sign was erected on city property by McComb Police on Oct. 31, one day before the ICC ruling went into effect, which stated that segregation in bus terminals would end. (AP Photo) #

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