I had the joy of being part of PBS’ 50th anniversary recreation of the Civil Rights Movements’ Freedom Rides. For two weeks, we traveled around the South, tracing the route of the Freedom Riders and meeting several Civil Rights Movement heroes. Here’s wikipedia‘s summary of the Freedom Riders’ work:
Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United Statesin 1961 and following years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.
The Freedom Riders challenged this status quo by riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation in seating. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often first let white mobs attack them without intervention.
Here was the video they made about me for the Student Freedom Ride:
And here’s the trailer for a great documentary on the original Freedom Ride: