Year 11

Freedom rides: protests and progress for civil rights (1961)

I can describe the events of the Freedom Rides and explain their significance for the civil rights movement.

Year 11

Freedom rides: protests and progress for civil rights (1961)

I can describe the events of the Freedom Rides and explain their significance for the civil rights movement.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. In 1960, the Supreme Court had ordered interstate bus terminals and stations to desegregate.
  2. CORE, SNCC and the SCLC came together to organise Freedom Rides to see whether this ruling was being carried out.
  3. The Freedom Riders were an integrated group who faced extreme violence on their journey.
  4. Violent opposition was supported and enabled by the KKK, police chiefs and the FBI.
  5. The Freedom Rides were considered a success by most as they raised awareness of the civil rights movement.

Common misconception

The increased success of the direct action in the 1960s was the result of minimal opposition.

Direct action in the 1960s was increasingly successful because of the increased opposition that was captured by national and international news reporters.


  • Interstate - interstate is when a service exists between states - for example, buses travelling between states

  • Direct action - direct action is the use of demonstrations or protest to achieve a goal, rather than negotiation

  • Integrated - integrated groups are groups with both black and white Americans

Content guidance

  • Contains depictions of discriminatory behaviour.
  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

To sit somewhere and refuse to move as a form of protest is know as a
Correct Answer: sit-in, Sit-in
To means to stop people being separated or kept apart by force.
Correct Answer: Desegregate, desegregate
Starting with the earliest, place these events into chronological order.
1 - Four black students sit at a ‘white-only’ lunch counter in Woolworth’s.
2 - 300 students join the sit-in at Woolworth’s, Greensboro.
3 - Sit-ins spread to 55 cities across 13 states.
4 - Dining facilities across the south were being desegregated.
Which organisation was founded at Shaw University, North Carolina, in 1960?
Correct answer: SNCC
In which two of the following events did SNCC play a leading role?
Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-6)
Greensboro sit-in (1960)
Correct answer: Freedom Rides (1961)
Correct answer: Freedom Summer (1963)
Which organisation did Stokely Carmichael and some other leaders of SNCC join in the late 1960s?
Correct answer: Black Power

6 Questions

is when a service exists between states.
Correct Answer: Interstate, interstate
What was the outcome of the Supreme Court upholding the Boynton v. Virginia case?
all schools were to desegregate
Correct answer: all interstate transport facilities were to desegregate
transport services across the south were to desegregate
Why did the Freedom Riders have no police protection when they arrived in Birmingham?
Correct answer: ‘Bull’ Connor gave all police officers the day off.
No one knew what time they were arriving.
The Freedom Riders had said they did not need it.
Which President sent in US troops to protect the Freedom Riders?
Correct answer: Kennedy
By how much did membership of CORE increase following the Freedom Rides?
Correct answer: It doubled.
It increased one and a half times.
It increased three times.
In which area was one of the buses was firebombed by a mob of nearly 200 racist white Americans?
Correct answer: Anniston, Alabama
Washington DC
South Carolina

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