Freedom Riders National Monument is a new national park unit. The park includes the former Greyhound Bus Station located at 1031 Gurnee Avenue in downtown Anniston where segregationists attacked a bus carrying Freedom Riders in May of 1961, and the spot six miles away on the side of the highway where they firebombed the hobbled bus and attempted to trap the Freedom Riders inside it. There are currently no visitor services at the park.
- Greyhound Bus Station (1031 Gurnee Avenue) On Sunday, May 14, 1961, a group of segregationists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan, attacked the bus carrying African American and white Freedom Riders. The mob threw rocks, broke windows, and slashed the tires of the bus. Following police intervention the bus was able to depart for Birmingham, with the mob in pursuit. The former bus station is not currently open to the public. Today, the side of the adjacent building that borders the bus station’s driveway features a mural and educational panels about the events of May 14, 1961.
- Bus Burning Site (Old Birmingham Highway/State Route 202) At this site, about six miles outside Anniston, the slashed tires of the Greyhound bus gave out and the driver was forced to pull over. The segregationist mob continued its attack, and someone eventually threw a bundle of flaming rags into the bus that exploded seconds later. Joseph “Little Joe” Postiglione, a freelance photographer, captured the scene. Little Joe’s photographs of the burning bus—which appeared in hundreds of newspapers on Monday morning—became iconic images of the civil rights movement. An Alabama Historical Marker identifies the site of the bus burning. Please note that the houses located nearby are private residences (near the intersection of Old Birmingham Highway and Barkwood Dr., Anniston, AL 36201)
The Greyhound Bus Station is part of the Anniston Civil Rights and Heritage Trail, which includes nine sites associated with the struggle for civil rights in Anniston. A self guided driving tour is available online at: annistoncivilrightstrail.org
(Please note that website is only accessible with a mobile device). Sites on the Anniston Civil Rights and Heritage Trail, outside the monument, which are associated with the 1961 Freedom Rides include:
- Anniston Memorial Hospital (400 East 10th Street) With great trouble the Freedom Riders made their way to the Anniston hospital, which provided little in the way of treatment, and where they found themselves once again under siege by a white mob. Their torment eventually ended when deacons dispatched by Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham’s Bethel Baptist Church, rescued them and drove them to Birmingham. The hospital is part of the Anniston Civil Rights and Heritage Trail and is marked with a sign.
- Trailways Station (1018 Noble St.) At this station, a second group of Freedom Riders stopped before departing for Birmingham. During their brief stop, a group of white men boarded and physically forced the Freedom Riders to segregate. The segregationists harassed the Freedom Riders throughout the two-hour ride to Birmingham. In Birmingham, the Freedom Riders were attacked by a mob of segregationists. The former Trailways Station also features a mural and educational panels .