On the one hand, some would say that they failed due to the reality that many of them were beaten and arrested. On the other hand, their message resonated with many across not only the South, but the nation as a whole. That message was designed to end the prejudice and segregation that still existed a century after the end of the Civil War. While policy changes may not have been initiated as a direct result of the Freedom Riders, the reality is that these activists highlight a rift within American society that would have to be dealt with. As a result, the Freedom Riders did end up having an impact of the Civil Rights movement by strengthening the voice of the African American person, bringing attention to the pervasive problem of segregation, and moving the government towards action in the end.
Frustrated from a lack of transportation services, and the reality that those offered to African Americans at the time were of a substantially substandard quality in comparison to whites, many in the African American community felt that they needed to be more proactive in making their voices heard and begin the process of desegregating the South once and for all. The rides are believe to have actually begun in force on a Mother’s Day in 1961. As history has revealed, one of the most segregated areas of the country was the rural South, and Alabama was prime territory to enforce segregational laws and policies (Manby, 2012). The African Americans in this area were not heard and they had no voice in local or state politics. As a result, some brave white and many blacks took it upon themselves to begin to be heard.
The freedom riders themselves actually integrated certain Greyhound bus routes, mixing black and white passengers, at great risk of personal injury.