Most of the Freedom Riders were black, many of them came from the South, and none of them were registered voters. They took to the nation's highways in the early 1960's to protest the walls of white segregationist practices in the Deep South. The first Freedom Rides of 1961 were unplanned affairs, which triggered violent reactions by many of the whites. A perfect example of this occurred Mother's Day of that year, just outside of Anniston, AL, a bus was firebombed and the riders were attacked by a mob. After this, many more riots took place. To avoid violence, the National Guardsmen of Alabama and the state police of Mississippi took the Freedom Riders to Jackson, MS, where they were put in jail.
As the months progressed, more and more riders were being imprisoned, so much so that Jackson's prisons were filled completely, and most of the original Freedom Riders were transferred to the Parchman Farm prison.
There, the blacks were treated with much cruelty, and to get through the harsh treatment they sang. Guards attempted to break the singing by removing their blankets and mattresses, but the freedom riders continued to sing. Five months after the Freedom Rides began, an organization called the Interstate Commerce Commission, banned segregation toward all public facilities.
Though the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that transportation would be fully integrated, Albany, GA, continued to enforce segregation in its bus and train stations. In response, another organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, helped to begin a series of demonstrations against these continued segregationist practices. Those who went against the desegregation rulings were put in jail.