In 1961, Freedom Rides spread across the South to place pressure on local communities and the federal government to implement court-ordered desegregation of bus terminal facilities. Little Rock’s first Freedom Riders, a contingent of five members of the St. Louis branch of the Congress of Racial Equality, arrived on the evening of July 10 at the Mid-West Trailways bus station at Markham and Louisiana. A plaque there marks the site and tells the story of the Little Rock Freedom Rides.
The pressure exerted by the Freedom Rides, together with an Interstate Commerce Commission order to desegregate, led to the integration of all Little Rock’s bus terminals on November 1, 1961.
Five markers also commemorate Philander Smith College students involved in sit-in demonstrations between 1960 and 1962, as well as members of the Arkansas Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. SNCC (pronounced “snick”) was active in Arkansas from 1962 to 1967.