Black History Month


To:  AAUW Members and Friends

From: Montevallo Branch Black History Month Committee

You are invited to an exciting Alabama Humanities Foundation Program on “Mother’s Day 1961:  The Freedom Rides in Alabama,” presented by UM Alum Laura Caldwell Anderson.

The date is Tuesday, February 16 at 4:00 in the Brown Room of Carmichael Library. 

Laura Anderson is currently Archivist and Director of the Oral History Project at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  We are very excited that Laura will return to UM to present this program, which includes unique images from the Archives of the Civil Rights Institute.  We look forward to an informative and timely presentation on the “Freedom Riders, who risked their lives in an effort to bring about Alabama’s compliance with federal law.” The public is welcome.  We hope you will join us to help welcome Laura Anderson back to Montevallo and to participate in the consideration of civil rights in Alabama, then and now.

More information about Laura’s AHF Road Scholar presentation

Mother’s Day 1961: The Freedom Rides in Alabama

 Presented by Laura Anderson, M.A., C.A., archivist at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

On Sunday, May 14, 1961, two groups of passengers boarded buses in Atlanta for separate trips to Birmingham. One group rode Greyhound, the other Trailways. The passengers—male and female, black and white, students and retirees—were known collectively as “Freedom Riders,” and they rode to test Southern states’ compliance with federal interstate transportation laws. The extreme violence they encountered in Alabama catapulted the Freedom Riders’ story into the national consciousness and cemented Alabama’s reputation as a hotbed of resistance to social change. Who were the so-called Freedom Riders? Why did they participate in such a dangerous mission? And what did they accomplish? Using images of the burning of the Freedom Riders’ bus outside Anniston on Mother’s Day 1961—images from a collection housed in the Archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)—along with oral history interviews with persons involved in the Freedom Rides, this presentation offers a look at the participants and supporters who risked their lives in an effort to bring about Alabama’s compliance with federal law. In addition, the presentation will consider the roles of violence, the media and law enforcement in the civil rights movement.

Laura Caldwell Anderson is a native of Rome, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1993, followed by a Master’s Degree in American Studies from The University of Alabama in 1996. She worked as Community Celebration and Documentation Coordinator for UA’s Program for Rural Services from 1996 – 2000. For two years after that, Laura researched interracial aspects of the civil rights movement in her hometown, earning a Master’s degree in History/Public History from the University of West Georgia in 2002.

Laura resides with her husband, Will Anderson and their son Walter in Birmingham’s Crestwood neighborhood. Since 2003, she has been employed at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where she currently serves as Archivist and Director of the Oral History Project.