GOP Migrant Relocation Efforts Mirror 1960s ‘Reverse Freedom Rides’: Report

  • Florida Gov. Desantis flew 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. 
  • The migrants told NPR that they were under the impression they were going to Boston for work. 
  • Advocates have compared the tactic to the 1960s “Reverse Freedom Rides.

The tactics used by Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to relocate 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last week resemble tactics used by southern segregationists during the 1960s “Reverse Freedom Rides,” CNN reported. 

In a tweet, Representatives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library also recounted the 1960s segregationalist effort. 

“To embarrass Northern liberals and humiliate Black people, southern White Citizens’ Councils started their so-called “Reverse Freedom Rides,” giving Black people one-way tickets to northern cities with false promises of jobs, housing, and better lives,” the library said. 

On Wednesday, 50 migrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without any warning. DeSantis claimed responsibility for the two flights. The migrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard as part of an effort by Republican governors to protest the Biden administration’s immigration policies. 

DeSantis was following in the footsteps of several other GOP governors who in recent weeks have been sending migrants to liberal cities. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused about 8,000 migrants to Washington D.C. and another 2,200 to New York City, in protest of  Biden’s immigration policies. 

NPR reported that the migrants thought they were headed to Boston for jobs. Three migrants told the outlets that a woman identified as “Perla” promised them expedited work permits in Boston.

“She (Perla) offered us help. Help that never arrived,” one migrant, named by the outlet as Andres, told NPR. “Now we are here. We got on the plane with a vision of the future, of making it.”



In 1962, the segregationist group called the White Citizens’ Council falsely promised hundreds of Black Americans housing and jobs before sending them to cities like New York and Philadelphia in an effort called the “Reverse Freedom Rides,” CNN reported.

“Reverse Freedom Rides are not well known among many people, and it’s important to understand that this tactic of using people as political pawns was used 60 years ago by segregationists and White supremacists,” Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP Boston branch told CNN. 

“It’s important for us to amplify and highlight that parallel, so people can see that this type of racist behavior and these racist tactics are still being used today,” she added.

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