2024 Redistricting

Anniston Memorial Hospital

May 14, 1961

The Story:

What Would You Have Done?

When seven injured black and white Freedom Riders refused to move to segregated emergency rooms after arriving at Anniston Memorial Hospital, staff members were faced with a difficult decision: ignore the threats of the mob outside to burn down the hospital and treat the Riders together or refuse to treat the Riders at all. 

It’s May 14, 1961, and Anniston Memorial Hospital, like many hospitals in the South, maintains a strict policy of separate emergency rooms, entrances and wards for blacks and whites. The Riders were suffering from smoke inhalation from a fire bomb tossed into their disabled bus by a mob white extremists. The mob was protesting the arrival of the Riders, who were testing desegregation of public transportation in the South by riding buses. 

Injured, exhausted and a long way from home, the Riders needed help. Defying the threats of the extremists outside, Hospital staff proceeded to treat the Riders and urged them to leave the hospital before more violence occurred. 

Meanwhile Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham arranged for parishioners to travel to Anniston and retrieve the Riders. Fearing for his life, his parishioners refused to let Shuttlesworth make the journey.

Anniston Memorial Hospital 1950
Anniston Memorial Hospital (Circa 1950)
Regional Medical Center (RMC) now stands at the former site of Anniston Memorial Hospital. 
Star_Freedom Riders Hospital
Anniston Star article detailing the hospitalization of the Freedom Riders 
(May 15, 1961).
The burning Freedom Riders’ bus on Mother’s Day in 1961.

Historical Trail Marker:


When seven injured “Freedom Riders” arrived at the Hospital on this date, the mob that had attacked them earlier in the day followed. The Riders were testing desegregation of public transportation in the South by riding buses. The bus they had been riding was attacked at the Anniston Greyhound bus station and again six miles outside the city.

When asked by Hospital staff to separate into black and white waiting rooms, the Riders refused. The staff proceeded to treat the Riders, defying the demands of the extremists gathered outside. Meanwhile, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth organized parishioners in Birmingham to retrieve the Riders from Anniston.

Anniston Memorial Hospital Marker


126 West 4th Street, Anniston, Alabama 36201

Anniston Civil Rights Trail Logo