Freedom Rider Joan Trumpaur's Mug Shot Taken By Jackson, MS Police, 1961

May 16, 2021

In this photo, originally taken in 1961 and colorized more recently, we see Joan Trumpaur in the booking photo taken by the Jackson, Mississippi, police. She was one of the civil rights activists known as the "Freedom Riders."

Image colorized by Mads Madsen,

The battle for racial equality has raged in America for over two hundred years and sadly continues today. During the height of the civil rights battle, brave Americans, both black and white, organized “Freedom Rides” to push the boundaries of racial inequality. These Americans, fighting for a better tomorrow, traveled to places where uneducated and ignorant people stubbornly held on to their racist ways.

These freedom rides occurred over a decade after the U.S Supreme Court ruled in Morgan vs. Virginia that segregated bus seating was unconstitutional. This was not the first round of Freedom Rides but the first to include women and the first to truly draw national attention to the deplorable treatment of black people by shameful Americans.

Going South

On May 17, 1961, Birmingham law enforcement took the Freedom Riders into custody, allegedly for their protection. However, they were released that evening in a remote area known for Klan activity on the Alabama-Tennessee border.(Getty)

Coordinated by the Congress of Racial Equality, 13 original Freedom Riders, seven black, and six white left from Washington D.C on May 4th, 1961. Their goal was to reach New Orleans on May 17 to honor the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education that ruled against segregation in public schools. They also intended to test two separate Supreme court rulings: Boynton v. Virginia and Morgan vs. Virginia. The first case declared that bathrooms, waiting rooms, and lunch counters could not be segregated.