The Freedom Riders were a legendary group of civil rights activists who in 1961 rode on buses into the segregated South to confront the racist policies of the era. San Pedro resident Bob Farrell was among a group of UCLA students who had the courage to participate. He tells SOLAHA the epic story of their journey.

November 16, 2023 

SOLAHA Vol. IV, No. 10

Former four term Los Angeles City Councilman  (CD8)Honorary Robert Farrell relates story of himself and UCLA student civil rights activists joining the Freedom Riders protests against segregation 

  1. 1961


Robert Farrell was born in Natchez, Mississippi on 10/1/1936; raised in New Orleans from early 1937 until 1946.Then resident in Newark, NJ until 1952 when his mother and he  and  moved to Los Angeles.

He has been  a civic activist for over 60 years. Beginning as a member of CORE, he was among the 500+ Freedom Riders who hastened the end to racial segregation in interstate transportation and facilities in the nation.

A long time resident of San Pedro  (SP)he participated in activities of the Coastal SP Neighborhood Council, SP Chamber of Commerce,  Grand Vision Foundation board,  SP Arts District, and the City Club of Los Angeles. A USA Navy veteran he was also active in programs of CLUE: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, in its work with the Black Jewish Justice Alliance; and collaboration with UNITE HERE Local 11 and the Hospitality Training Academy. He has served as a member of the LA Trade Tech Foundation board.

A life member of the NAACP, he has served as member of and been recipient of honors from the UCLA Black Alumni Association, Black Community Clergy Alliance, Black American Political Association of California, Guyana Medical Relief, Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Trans Africa, Los Angeles Urban League, and the Silver Lining of Hope Conference, among other community and civic organizations. In 1968 he was part of a special delegation from Los Angeles who attended the  funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia.  

He has traveled extensively on Los Angeles Sister City missions, other cultural exchange programs and study tours to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada, Mexico and Western Samoa.

He and his lovely wife (vocalist) Windy Barnes Farrell are well known for SP community cultural  support and great role models for others to emulate.