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HEROES OF the
Civil rights movement

JOHN LEWIS' ACCOUNT OF THE FREEDOM RIDERS

“Now the mob was moving towards us, and Jim Zwerg became their target. They shouted ‘N****r Lover!’ as several men clutching axe handles grabbed Jim and pulled him into the mob. All I could see were his legs as his body disappeared into this mass of people…

…It was madness. It was unbelievable. I could see some of our group trying to climb a nearby tree to get away. Others were scrambling to get up the wall of a building, which was impossible. Everywhere this crowd screaming and reaching out and hitting and spitting. It was awful. They were like animals. I tried shouting directions about the way to get out of the lot and up the street. I knew Montgomery. I knew this terminal. But there was no way anyone could hear me. And there was no way to get through the crowd, which had now closed around us…

…This was all happening at once, all within seconds, really. I could see Jim Zwerg now, being horridly beaten. Someone picked up his suitcase, which he had dropped, and swung it full force against his head. Another man then lifted Jim’s head and held it between his knees while others, including women and children, hit and scratched at Jim’s face. His eyes were shut. He was unconscious.”