The Freedom Riders Brought to Life in Newly Colorized Photos

Historic mug shots of the famed civil rights campaigners known as the Freedom Riders have been brought back to life through colorization.

The photos, which have been delicately restored and transformed, depict a number of the Freedom Riders in police mug shots after being arrested for a variety of offenses while fighting for civil rights causes in the 1960s.

The Freedom Riders were formed on May 4, 1961, by a group of six black and seven white civil rights activists.

The group traveled together on public buses from Washington DC to America’s deep south where white members would attempt to enter black only areas and vice-versa in order to challenge segregation in the region.

Now-Congressman John Lewis was among the group of original Freedom Riders and was the first to be assaulted by people who opposed their movement.

Two men attacked him as he tried to enter a whites-only waiting room in Rock Hill, South Carolina, battering his face and kicking him in the ribs.

Two weeks later, Lewis, who was 21 at the time, joined a Freedom Ride to Jackson.

On May 14 the Riders were confronted by hundreds of white nationalists in Alabama who proceeded to bomb one of the buses and brutally beat the Freedom Riders.

The group’s actions received a large amount of national and international interest, drawing hundreds of new Freedom Riders to the cause.

Upon reaching Jackson, Lewis was arrested on May 24, 1961, for trying to use a whites-only restroom.

Another Rider, David Kerr Morton, was arrested at the bus depot in Jackson, Mississippi, for deliberately attempting to order a meal in the ‘negro’ section, in defiance of the segregation laws of the time.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was also one of those arrested and spent two months on death row in the fearsome Parchman Penitentiary for her part in one of the movement’s rides.

The rides continued for the following months and under pressure from the Kennedy administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued new regulations prohibiting segregated transport facilities.

Many of the Freedom rides were sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), while others were organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Nearly 75 per cent of the Riders were between 18 and 30 years old, and many were college students. A quarter were women, and about half of the Riders were black.

Their mugshots give a glimpse into the participants’ emotions following their arrest, with some showing defiance, pride and fear.

Lewis, who at the time had already taken part in sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters in Nashville, can be seen with a half smile on his face as police took his mugshot in Jackson.

Photographs of several Riders were restored and transformed into color by 39-year-old artist Matt Loughrey, from Westport in Ireland.

‘I think Joan’s photograph really examples innocence and resilience in a situation of total and utter chaos,’ said Loughrey. ‘But all their faces symbolize determination and resilience in the face of adversity, which was born out of racism.

‘These photos remind us that people before us paved a way forward through their sacrifice, they were judged willingly in order to combat racism, taking on a cultural divide despite being punished.

‘Even so, right now the world is awash with cultural divide, resentment and fear and we are still falling short in the areas of life that the Freedom Riders took on.’

Striking images like these are featured in British author Michael D. Carroll’s new book on the colorization of historical images.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Kelly McLaughlin