Photos From 'Life' On The Freedom Riders' 50th Anniversary

Originally published on May 23, 2012 11:52 am

Fifty years ago today, 13 activists piled on a bus headed south to test new laws against segregation. The group of "Freedom Riders" that left Washington, D.C., that day would be one of many to confront racial discrimination in public transportation.

They were met with violence much of the way; but in November of the same year, the Interstate Commerce Commission finally capitulated, ruling that anyone, regardless of race, could sit anywhere on buses or trains.

Life photographer Paul Schutzer was still early in his career when he was hired to document events of the civil rights movement — including the Freedom Riders. Today, Life has several commemorative galleries — never-before seen photos of the Freedom Riders movement and the bigger movement that surrounded it.

And NPR's jazz blog is commemorating those Freedom Riders today with a playlist.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit