May 24, 1961: Twenty-seven Freedom Riders, headed for New Orleans, were arrested as soon as they arrived in the bus station in Jackson, Mississippi. Many of the riders were sentenced to two months inside Mississippi’s worst prison, Parchman. Within a few months, police arrested more than 400 Freedom Riders. Eric Etheridge features portraits of the Riders (then and now) in his book, Breach of Peace. Their journeys are captured in Raymond Arsenault’s book, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, and Stanley Nelson’s documentary, Freedom Riders.
May 25, 1774: A group of Africans held as slaves in Massachusetts Bay colony (a center for slave trade) declared that they were born free just like the white citizens and “have never forfeited this Blessing by any compact or agreement whatever.” In 1783, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found for freedom for all slaves. Chief Justice William Cushing declared slavery “inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution.”
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