In 1942 three members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), George Houser, James Farmer and Bernice Fisher established the CORE. Our members are deeply influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his nonviolent civil disobedience campaign, which he used to successfully under British rule in India. We are employing the same methods to obtain civil rights for African Americans in America.
In 1947, we planned to send members into the Deep South to test the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in interstate travel unconstitutional. These eight white and eight black men voyaged through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky on the Journey of Reconciliation.
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was against this kind of direct action, but volunteered the service of its southern attorneys during the campaign. Additionally, Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP’s legal department, was strongly against the Journey of Reconciliation and warned that a “disobedience movement on the part of Negroes and their white allies, if employed in the South, would result in wholesale slaughter with no good achieved.”
During the two-week trip, blacks sat in front, whites in back and sometimes side-by-side, all in violation of current state laws, which required passengers to practice segregated seating in buses. The riders suffered several arrests, but the journey was seen as later inspiring the Freedom Rides of the 60’s.