Barbour apologizes for ‘mistreatment’ of Freedom Riders arrested in Miss. in 1961

“We apologize to you for your mistreatment in 1961, and we appreciate this chance for atonement and reconciliation,” Barbour told the so-called Freedom Riders during a dinner at a Jackson hotel Sunday.

The Freedom Riders, college students and other activists who challenged segregation on commercial bus lines are in Jackson this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1961 protest. Barbour is among the leaders hosting them.

At the dinner, Barbour thanked the group for their “courage, your commitment, your sufferings and your sacrifices of 50 years ago.” On Monday, the Republican welcomed them at a breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion, saying many seemed surprised — yet pleased — by his apology.

“The better question for me is, how could I not apologize,” Barbour said. “It is good we are rid of segregation, and we are right grateful for the role you played in helping us get there.”