American Experience | Freedom Riders
Watch Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 9pm on WMHT TV.
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In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students — many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university — decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face-to-face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.
In this video from 1961, two Freedom Riders explain what they're doing.
Irene Morgan fought her 1944 arrest for sitting in the front of an interstate bus.
For African-Americans, travel in the segregated South was insulting at best.
Civil rights activists rehearsed non-violence, and were prepared to face violence.
Student Freedom Riders discuss the nonviolent protest movement of 50 years ago.
Two activists reflect on what the Freedom Rides meant for the Civil Rights movement.