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Excerpts from the Boston Globe series "The Judith Frieze Story"

PURPOSE:

All of a sudden I was tired of talking. I had reached the point when I wanted to do something about this. I felt like the only way that I could make my principles meaningful was by involving myself.

It seemed necessary to close that gap between what I was saying and what I was doing.

I wrote to CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and volunteered to participate in a Freedom Ride.

- Boston Globe, July 30, 1961

Details

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “My Ordeal in Dixie Penitentiary,” Boston Globe, 30 July 1961, p.1.

PREPARATION:

There were nine of us on that Freedom Ride – three white girls and one white man, one Negro woman and four Negro men…

A Negro boxer from Chicago was with us. It often amazed me that he, a fighter, could maintain the non-violent behavior of a Freedom Rider.

- Boston Globe, July 30, 1961

We were not supposed to strike back if we were attacked.
The men were told to form a ring around the women, and we were instructed to try and protect Mr. Schwartzchild.

The crowd is most likely to be angry with a white man, Wyatt said.
Secondly, they would vent their feelings against the Negro man.
We white girls were the least likely to be attacked.

- Boston Globe, July 31, 1961

Details

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “My Ordeal in Dixie Penitentiary,” Boston Globe, 30 July 1961, p.1.
Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “The Came the Moment I’d Feared,” Boston Globe, 31 July 1961, p. 1.

THE "CRIME":

The arrest of Miss Frieze and her eight companions brought to 140 the number of arrests during the 29-day siege of Jackson. The nine new riders were ordered arrested by Capt J.L. Ray after they entered the all-white waiting room and then failed to obey officers’ orders to move on. The only white man in the group, Henry Schwarzchild of Chicago, asked for permission to get a cup of coffee in the lunchroom and Ray told him to move on.

“I believe I have a right to get a cup of coffee,” Schwarzchild replied, and Ray told him that he was under arrest. Less than 10 minutes later the terminal was cleared of the nine riders.

- Boston Globe, July 22, 1961

“Then you are all under arrest,” he said.

A wave of relief spread over me.

I had looked forward to, and yet feared, this
moment. At last it had come and I was glad.

The police officers took our names and we were taken to city jail.

We had our moment of triumph, however, for we integrated the patrol wagon on the way – our whole group traveled together.

- Boston Globe, July 31, 1961

Details

"Newton Girl Jailed in Mississippi with Eight Freedom Riders", Boston Globe, 22 June, 1961, p. 24.

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “The Came the Moment I’d Feared,” Boston Globe, 31 July 1961, p. 1.

PRISON LIFE:

My home for the next three days was a cubicle, approximately 13 feet by 15 feet. It was meant to house four prisoners. There were 20 of us….

Although there was a shower in the back of the cell and we could shower every day, I felt dirty every minute I was there.

We each received a clean sheet as we entered the cell, and that was all.

The linen was grey with filth, outmatched, perhaps, only by the mattress.

And there were plenty of them. The cell had four cots in it, each topped with a scrawny, filthy mattress. We put the three largest girls on three of the cots and two of the little girls on the
remaining one.

The rest of us—the 15 medium-size girls—slept on mattresses on the floor. We lined them up, side by side, and allotted two mattresses to every three people.

- Boston Globe, July 31, 1961

The food was horrible…

A typical breakfast in a Southern prison consisted of black, watery coffee, biscuits and molasses, and always grits – a dish which my Southern friends told me was ordinarily quite tasty, but prison style, it was horrible…

Lunch and supper were usually quite similar, only supper was colder.

We had beans – every imaginable variety – crumbly corn bread and tap water, if we were thirsty.

- Boston Globe, August 1, 1961

Details

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “The Came the Moment I’d Feared,” Boston Globe, 31 July 1961, p. 1.

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “My Diary Eluded the Jailers,” Boston Globe, 1 August 1961, p. 1.

PRISON LIFE - COMMUNITY:

The days in Hinds County Jail passed quickly, for we had devised ways to keep ourselves busy.

Each morning one of my cellmates gave ballet lessons. She had been a ballerina before going on the Freedom Ride…

We had mental exercise, too, in those early prison days.

Elizabeth Wyckoff, or Betty, as we called her, gave us Greek lessons during the day. She had been a classics professor at Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke Colleges.

We spent most of our time, however, getting to know each other.

At first we knew our new Negro friends by voice only. We had no way of seeing them. [They were in other cells since the jail was segregated.]

But dipping into our pool of contraband articles, we came up with a compact mirror. Now we could see each other. By holding the mirror out in the hallway between the two cells, those in one cell could see into the next.

In this way, we were able to “introduce” ourselves to each other.

- Boston Globe, August 2, 1961

Each evening we would “broadcast” a radio program.
One girl would play the role of announcer, another was in charge of commercials – we advertised those items found necessary around the cell, like toothpowder and “super-fatted lanolated soap.” The rest of us would deliver news bulletins, sing, tell jokes or act out original skits.

Most of the talent was amateurish, but several of the girls had excellent voices and we enjoyed listening to them.

- Boston Globe, August 5, 1961

Details

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “Success Gave Us Courage to Endure Jail,” Boston Globe, 2 August 1961, p. 8

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “’Hate Letters’ Accuse Us, Jailers Intimidate Us,” Boston Globe, August 5 1961, p.8.

ON REFLECTION:

[On July 23, 1961, Judith Frieze was bonded out of prison due to ill health. In the last of the Boston Globe articles, she reflects on her experience.] Now that I have the time to think about my past month, I have thied ta [sic] analyze the lessons I have learned.

There has never been any question as to whether the ordeal was worth it. I believed in a cause—integration—and I have done something about my belief. I have tried to make my beliefs meaningful; I have not merely talked about them.

I endured my prison sentence, and found it almost bearable because I was fighting for a cause in which I believed. And others were fighting with me.

- Boston Globe, August 6, 1961

Details

Judith Frieze as told to Lois Daniels, “But Segregation’s My Business, Too,” Boston Globe, 6 August 1961, p. 8.

Description

A series of excerpts from the Boston Globe eight article feature story on Judith Frieze and her experience as a Freedom Rider in the summer of 1961. She along with fellow activists were arrested and jailed in Jackson, Mississippi. Their purpose was to test Boynton v. Virginia, a Supreme Court case ordering the integration of restaurants and waiting rooms in bus terminals serving interstate bus routes.

Date / time
1961
Author(s)
Frieze, Judith
Publisher
The Boston Globe Company
Publication
The Boston Globe
Date published
1961

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Excerpts from the Boston Globe series "The Judith Frieze Story"." (Viewed on October 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11385/lightbox2>.

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