As a young man, Fred Clark of Jackson traveled to Midway, Georgia, to attend a series of meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King. In this episode, he recalls fearing for his safety as the group planned protests across the Jim Crow South.
The Freedom Riders were protesters who rode interstate buses to challenge southern segregation laws. Clark describes being arrested in Jackson in June of 1961 for trying to buy a ticket from the whites-only window. So many Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson, many were taken to Parchman to handle the overflow. Clark remembers how their nonstop singing led to severe reprisals by prison officials.
PODCAST BONUS: In order to break the spirit of the protesters, prison guards resorted to putting them in windowless iron holding cells known as hotboxes. Unable to breath in the sweltering heat, Clark describes feelings of panic and being ridiculed by the guards.
PHOTO: MS Dept. of Archives and History