Experience: Freedom Riders
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Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
DVD Release Date: May 17, 2011
Run Time: 120 minutes
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FREEDOM RIDERS is the powerful 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.
From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till) 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.
"I got up one morning in May and I said to my folks at home, I won't be
because I'm a Freedom Rider. It was like a wave or a wind that you didn't know where it was coming from or where it was going, but you knew you were supposed to be there."
— Pauline Knight-Ofuso, Freedom Rider
Despite two earlier Supreme Court decisions that mandated the desegregation
of interstate travel facilities, black Americans in 1961 continued to endure
hostility and racism while traveling through the South. The newly
inaugurated Kennedy administration, embroiled in the Cold War and worried
about the nuclear threat, did little to address domestic civil rights.
Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
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Paperback: 704 pages
Oxford University Press, USA (February 19, 2007)
Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.9
They were black and white, young and old, men and women. In the spring and summer of 1961, they put their lives on the line, riding buses through the American South to challenge segregation in interstate transport. Their story is one of the most celebrated episodes of the civil rights movement, yet a full-length history has never been written until now. In these pages, acclaimed historian Raymond Arsenault provides a gripping account of six pivotal months that jolted the consciousness of America.
"The people that took a seat on these buses, that went to jail in Jackson,
that went to Parchman, they were never the same. We had moments there to
learn, to teach each other the way of nonviolence, the way of love, the way
of peace. The Freedom Ride created an unbelievable sense: Yes, we will make
it. Yes, we will survive. And that nothing, but nothing, was going to stop
this movement," recalls Congressman John Lewis, one of the original Riders.
Says filmmaker Stanley Nelson, "The lesson of the Freedom Rides is that great change can come from a few small steps taken by courageous people. And that sometimes to do any great thing, it's important that we step out alone."
Freedom Riders: Preview (Run time: 2:16)
Question and Answers from a screening April 5th 2011 (Run time 14:28)