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Meet Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Learn about the Freedom Rider who was confined for two months in a Maximum Security unit?


Born and raised in the DMV, Mulholland participated in dozens of sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and protests. However, she is most noted for her efforts as a 1961 Freedom Rider. Freedom Riders were groups of Black and white civil rights activists who participated in Freedom Rides. Freedom Rides were bus trips through the American South in 1961 to highlight and protest against segregated bus terminals. Like many changemakers, the majority of the Freedom Riders were young adults from the college demographic.

One of those students came from Duke University, believing that "anyone can make a difference. It doesn't matter how old or young you are". That student in 1961 was Mulholland. Mulholland believed in fighting for a free and just society so much that her freedom, in return, was compromised. In 1961 she was arrested and housed on death row for two months in Mississippi's Parchman Penitentiary at the age of 19! Nevertheless, Mulholland did not let that experience prevent her from fighting against social injustice.

Today, Mulholland's legacy continues. She fights against racism through her foundation-The Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation-which is devoted to ending racism through anti-racist education pursuits. The goal of her foundation is to "educate people about the Civil Rights Movement and how they can make a difference in their community".