May 3, 2023

Freedom Riders, Civil Rights Champions to Recount History at Upcoming Anniversary Event in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A special event will take place in Birmingham, Alabama on May 14 to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the historic Freedom Rides. Hosted by national environmental nonprofit, The Conservation Fund, and other historic preservation partners, the event will include firsthand accounts from some of the Freedom Riders themselves who heeded the call to continue the Freedom Rides after the attacks in Anniston and Birmingham in 1961.

This commemorative gathering will highlight the courage and bravery of the many Freedom Riders who joined together to stand against unjust segregation laws in the south. In the spring of 1961, 13 men and women (seven Black and six white) boarded two buses in Washington, D.C. and headed south in protest of interstate transportation segregation laws. But their bravery was met with horrific violence. At the anniversary event on May 14, the attending Freedom Riders will recount their memories and share experiences from that harrowing day.

“Hearing the personal stories, struggles and experiences of prominent Civil Rights leaders and participants is such a unique and special opportunity,” said Phillip Howard, Civil Rights people and places program manager at The Conservation Fund. “Their bravery and dedication continue to inspire us today, and we hope many people and their families can come join us for this exemplary recount of history.”

“As we mark the 62nd anniversary of the Freedom Rides, we remember how 13 brave passengers made a commitment to nonviolent resistance and sparked a nationwide conversation on segregation and civil rights,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and senior vice president with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “During their 1,500-mile journey from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans, the Freedom Riders were assaulted, threatened and arrested, yet remained unwavering in their commitment to challenge segregation in America. This commemoration event — at such a historic site of African American history in Birmingham — will inspire all of us to remember the bravery and determination of the Freedom Riders, and to continue our pursuit of a more just, equitable society.”

All guests are welcome and registration is not required for this free event.

  • When: Sunday, May 14 at 1:30 p.m. CDT
  • Where: Greyhound Bus Station, 618 19th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Who: Freedom Riders and other Civil Rights leaders, including 80-year-old Charles Person, the youngest Freedom Rider who was beaten by an angry mob inside a bus station in Birmingham, Freedom Rider Dr. Bernard Lafayette, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Executive Director Brent Leggs and others.
  • What: Attendees can expect a moving speaker series followed by an opportunity to visit a replica of the Freedom Rider’s Greyhound bus.


This event will be presented in partnership with The Conservation Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation, the City of Birmingham, Freedom Riders Park Board, Bethel Baptist Church, the National Park Service, Wells Fargo, the National Parks Conservation Association, Women Works Media Group, the Alabama Tourism Department, Williams Blackstock Architects and the Freedom Rides Museum.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres, including 36,200 acres in Alabama and dozens of at-risk Civil Rights history sites including the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston.

Media contacts:
Josh Lynsen,, 703-908-5809
Ann Simonelli,, 703-908-5809