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10 Freedom Riders: Then and Now

50 years ago, young civil rights activists boarded buses and trains to beat Jim Crow

Left: Police photo of Carol Silver in 1961; right: Silver in 2007

Arrested after riding from Nashville, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., on June 7, 1961; photographed Feb. 18, 2007, in San Francisco — Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Eric Etheridge

Carol Silver


In 1961. Silver, 22, was living in New York and working at the United Nations, having graduated from the University of Chicago the previous year.

In her words. "The ride between Jackson and Parchman took about four hours and was more frightening than any previous part of the jail experience.

"The most terrifying part of the ride was the three times when the driver suddenly jolted off to the side of the highway and stopped. We imagined every horror, including an ambush by the KKK. I suppose they were just waiting for our escort of state police and FBI to catch up, or something equally innocent, but until we were moving again, none of us breathed an easy breath."

Today. Silver, 72, is a lawyer in private practice in San Francisco. She returned to the University of Chicago for law school, and from 1965 to 1970 returned each summer to Mississippi and Louisiana to work with the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee. She was elected to three terms on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, serving from 1977 to 1989.

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