“Hate Bus,” 1961

Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Atlantic

“George Lincoln Rockwell, center, self-styled leader of the American Nazi Party, and his “hate bus” with several young men wearing swastika arm bands, stops for gas in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 23, 1961, en route to Mobile, Alabama.”

A bit of background behind this photo. George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party and a Holocaust denier. Additionally, he was a white supremacist and thus against the Civil Rights Movements. When the Freedom Riders began their journey to desegregate the Deep South’s bus stations, Rockwell bought a Volkswagen van and turned it into a “Hate Bus” by plastering swastikas and pro-white slogans all over it. They drove it around the Deep South, putting on rallies and speaking engagements with the Ku Klux Klan. The photo above was taken on May 23rd, three days after the Freedom Riders were assaulted at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery.

While Rockwell was for racial segregation and believed other races to be inferior, he wanted to form associations with the Nation of Islam. He believed religious leader Elijah Muhammad was the “black people’s Hitler.” Rockwell also admired Malcolm X and believed he (Malcolm X) was the true leader of Black America. Malcolm X did not feel admiration in the slightest for Rockwell. In 1965, while Rockwell was on another “Hate Bus” campaign in the South, Malcolm X sent him the following telegram:

This is to warn you that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist Black Muslim movement, and that if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings, that you and your Ku Klux Klan friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence, and who believe in asserting our right of self-defense – by any means necessary.

The “Hate Bus” was later repossessed after a loan default.


Share the History Love...Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponDigg thisShare on LinkedIn
Similar posts
  • Segregated Union Hall for Shipyard Workers A view of the offices of the auxiliary Boilermakers A-36 Union, a segregated union hall for African American shipyard workers in Richmond, California during World War II. Share the History Love... [...]
  • Helen Keller & Grace Coolidge, 1926 On January 11, 1926, Helen Keller visited the White House. She also had a photo-op with First Lady Grace Coolidge. Interacting with a person in the deaf community was nothing new for the First Lady. In 1904 – before her marriage to the future president Calvin Coolidge – Grace began her teaching training course at [...]
  • Fallout Survival Supplies, 1961 In this 1961 photograph, a civil defense exhibit displays survival supplies for a fallout shelter. Designed to protect its inhabitants from nuclear, biological, or chemical attack, a fallout shelter was critical to the civil defense plans developed during the Cold War of the 1950s and 60s. Share the History Love... [...]
  • Feelings about Prohibition, ca. 1920 Ernest Hare expresses his feelings about Prohibition, ca. 1920. Share the History Love... [...]
  • Video: Marilyn Monroe Arrives in London The newsreel shows American film star Marilyn Monroe and her husband Arthur Miller arriving at a London Airport on July 19, 1956. She was in town to promote The Prince and the Showgirl with co-star Sir Laurence Olivier who is shown in the clip, alongside his wife Vivien Leigh, greeting Monroe and Miller. Olivier also directed [...]