Volume 77, Issue 15
February 24, 2006

The Vintage Elm: Freedom Riders

From The Elm, Feb. 9, 1962, front page.

"On Sat., Feb. 3, 1961, approximately 150 freedom riders protested segregation in Chestertown and the nearby area. Seventy-two of them were from the New York City area: New York University and Brooklyn College. Twenty were from Swarthmore, four from Yale, and the rest from Baltimore. The Riders were under the direction of Philip Savage, Philadelphia Regional Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Assisting in the project was the Baltimore Civic Interest Group directed by Clarence Logan. ...


A plan of action listing all the establishments to be integrated had been prepared; the people were informed of how they should conduct themselves, and then they were sent to their respective places. Trouble was expected in two places. This is the countdown for trouble. This is how your reporter experienced and witnessed the developments. ...


2:30 Freedom Riders walk into town. One group goes to Lee's Restaurant, is refused admittance. Sets up picket lines outside. Another group goes to Stams Pharmacy, and is served. Another group goes to the main street, High Street, and is refused service. Picketing begins in the main section of town, near Gus's pool hall. Eight police control the crowds of above one hundred. One out of every five picketers is Negro. ...


4:00 The crowd at the Tally Ho disperses. A larger crowd forms on High Street in Chestertown. A Washington College student carries a sign with the pickets. Several Chestertown Negroes carry signs. Several of the picketers are Negro; several are women. A white man swings on a picketer, the police separate them. Generally the crowd is tense, but no violence breaks out here either. ...


The last announcement, made before the Freedom Riders left, was that they would be back the following Saturday. Undoubtedly, they will be back many times."