Interview with James Farmer
QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

SPECIFICALLY, WHAT HAPPENED IN ANNTSTON AND IN BIRMINGHAM TO THE FREEDOM RIDERS?

James Farmer:

Yes, in Anniston, Alabama, when the first Freedom Rider bus arrived, there was a mob of men, white men, several hundred, standing there at the bus terminal waiting for the bus. And the members of the mob had their weapons in plain evidence, pistols, guns, blackjacks, clubs, chains, knives, all of them in evidence. The Freedom Riders made a decision on the spot that discretion was the better part of valor in this case, and that they were not going to test the terminal facilities at Anniston. To do so would have been suicide. They told that decision to the driver. The driver prepared to drive the bus on. Before the bus was pulled on, however, members of the mob took their sharp instrents and slashed tires. The bus got to the outskirts of Anniston and the tires blew out and the bus ground to a halt. Members of the mob had boarded cars and followed the bus, and now with the disabled bus standing there, the members of the mob surrounded it, held the door closed, and a member of the mob threw a fire bomb into the bus, breaking a window to do so. Incidentally, there were some local policemen mingling with the mob, fraternizing with them while this was going on.**