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Fifty years ago, a small group boarded a bus in Washington D.C. to challenge racial segregation in the deep South. They were nearly burned alive in Alabama. Then hundreds of activists joined the movement to keep the rides going. Host Michel Martin speaks with two Freedom Riders about this historical episode. Congressman Bob Filner and Rev. Reginald Green were college students when joining and were consequently jailed.

These are the mug shots of the Freedom Riders as they were arrested in 1961. Most of them were sent to the brutal Parchman Prison in Mississippi. These are only 32 of the 400 riders who fought for Freedom.

For much of the 20th Century, African Americans in the South were barred from the voting booth, sent to the back of the bus, and walled off from many of the rights they deserved as American citizens. Until well into the 1960s, segregation was legal. The system was called Jim Crow. In this documentary, Americans—black and white—remember life in the Jim Crow times.Understanding Segregation requires you to  remember Jim Crow.

Cameraman being kicked by an unidentified man during a Freedom Rider Demonstration.

Developed in partnership with PBS's American Experience, the guide Democracy in Action supports educators and students in their use of the documentary Freedom Riders. This film tells the powerful story of the Freedom Riders taking brave and decided actions to dismantle the structures of discrimination—specifically segregated interstate bus travel—through nonviolence.With primary source readings, historic photographs, and questions to stimulate classroom discussions, the guide prompts…

de Abagond

Jim Zwerg

Jim Zwerg. Freedom rider. Attacked by the Klan he waited for two hours for transport to a hospital - no white ambulance would take him.

Teaching Tolerance curriculum, designed for grades six through twelve (but adaptable for higher education, as well), offers an outstanding framework within which to teach students about the freedom riders and the civil rights movement.

bruce davidson, usa, 1961. segregated waiting room at greyhound bus station along freedom riders route.

Freedom Riders tells the story of a courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged segregation, simply by traveling side by side on buses and trains through the Deep South in 1961. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, more than 400 black and white college students risked their lives—and many met with bitter racism, mob violence and imprisonment—sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism. Democracy in Action prompts students to consider the relationship between the…

Freedom Rider: Rev. Reginald Green, Washington DC