PBS Documentary Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Riders – Airs Tonight at 9:00 PM.



Dear Commons Community,

FREEDOM RIDERS is apowerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

FREEDOM RIDERS features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

In the end, they could claim victory. Acting at the request of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued a sweeping order in September 1961 ending segregation in all interstate facilities and calling for all “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” signs to come down.

Five decades later, while we still have a ways to go to achieve racial equality, the country is better off for them.



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