In 1960, the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation in rest rooms, waiting rooms and restaurants was illegal.
In 1961, 13 members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) tested the Supreme Court Ruling, by travelling by bus from Washington to New Orleans.
The Freedom Riders faced threats and violence as they travelled south, so much so that Martin Luther King urged the Freedom Riders to call off their protest several times as he was worried about their safety.
The Freedom Riders attracted huge publicity and many white people, especially in the north, were appalled by the violence.
The US Government finally ordered all interstate bus companies to end segregation at interstate bus stations.
In late 1961, the Government also ordered the end of segregation in airports, railway and bus stations.