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Freedom Rider Diary from Jackson City Jail

Joan Mulholland kept a diary of her time in the Jackson city jail. The jailed riders wore their own clothes in Jackson, and Mulholland was able to hide a pencil and several sheets of crumpled paper in the hem of her skirt. When she was transferred to Parchman, she had to wear prison-issue clothing, but on her release, when her clothes were returned to her, she found the diary safe and sound, still hidden in the hem of her garment.

Below is a scan and the transcript of the entry for June 10, 1961. Mulholland had been arrested two days before.


Washed my hair. Dinner spaghetti with two little chunks of hot dogs & cornbread. Ugh! Ruth can’t take it and has been trying to call the lawyer. Lovely little article in yesterday’s paper about me. Wrote Paul but got it back. He’s bailed out and so has Frank.

This evening we sang a lot. Most girls did folk dancing, but since I’d just washed I didn’t want to get all sweaty. After dinner most of us changed to shorties. I think all the girls in here are gems but I feel more in common with the Negro girls & wish I was locked in with them instead of these atheist Yankees.

The jailer brought by two girls to look at us, including one he brought by last night. The boys have devotions twice a day. Sigh! When I grease up Emmy comes over to have some on her lips. Got paper tonight. Wrote Cecil – smuggled.

Almost as soon as the lights went out the singing started. The boys would sing some, and we’d sing some. A man named Charles (non-rider) has a beautiful voice and sang several solos. Someone further away sang “How Great Thou Art” for Betty. Some white guy kept cursing us out. One guy answered back a little and everyone sang louder. We quit around 11. It was one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had.

1 Comment

As a white mother to three bi-racial children and the stepmother to two african american boys and married to a fantastic God-fearing African American MAN! I say THANK YOU to all the sacrifices the generation before me have made. Because of you we can live the American Dream. Thank You Jesus and Thank you freedom riders!

Posted by Paula on 1 August 2011 @ 3pm