"White cab drivers were hanging around the bus station, with nothing to do. They saw our Trailways bus delayed, and learned the reasons why. Here was something over which they could work out their frustration and boredom. Two ringleaders started haranguing the other drivers. About ten of them started milling around the parked bus. When I got off to put up bail for the two Negroes and two whites in our group who had been arrested, five of the drivers surrounded me. 'Coming here to stir up the n*****s,' snarled a big one with steel-cold grey eyes. With that, he slugged me on the side of the head. I stepped back, looked at him, and asked, 'What's the matter?' My failure to retaliate with violence had taken him by surprise." -- James Peck.
James Peck was born on this day in 1914 in New York City.
A civil rights activist and pacifist, known for his participation in the Journey of Reconciliation (1947, designed to provoke hostile state responses to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that segregation in interstate travel was unconstitutional) and in the 1961 Freedom Ride from Washington, D.C. to Mississippi, Peck was brutally beaten by segregationist thugs in Birmingham, Alabama during the Freedom Ride. The brutality he and his fellow activists suffered there ultimately inspired the Kennedy Administration to pressure the Interstate Commerce Commission to end discrimination in bus terminals. Peck died on July 12, 1993.
Categories: Civil-Rights, Peace-Activism