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Freedom Riders

Above is the full version 1:53.09. Parts 2, 3 and 4 are also posted separately below

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. Read more.

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders


Eric Etheridge, author


On the cover:

Freedom Rider Helen Singleton


Born November 27, 1932, Philadelphia

Arrested July 30, 1961, Train station, Jackson; Student, Santa Monica City College

National History Day documentary on Bull Connor, Birmingham's Commissioner of Public Safety, whose use of police dogs and fire hoses on civil rights demonstrators dramatically backfired and called national attention to the Civil Rights Movement.

PBS - American Experience
The Freedom Rides

Alabama, 1961. White men taunt the Freedom Riders along their route from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi.

Freedom Riders: Then

mySA June 17, 2011

A group of Freedom Riders from Tennessee stands at the door of a Greyhound bus in Birmingham,Ala., waiting for a bus to leave for Montgomery on May 19, 1961. The Tennessee Board of Regents has changed its decision to deny honorary degrees to 14 students, at what is now called Tennessee State University, who were expelled for participating in Freedom Rides of the 1960s civil rights movement. The board voted unanimously on Friday, April 25, 2008, to change its March vote, which brought criticism from civil rights activists. Read more

Ku Klux Klansmen beat black bystander George Webb in the Birmingham Trailways bus station, May 14, 1961. The man with his back to the camera (center right) is FBI undercover agent Gary Thomas Rowe.
Freedom Riders Jimmy McDonald, left, and Hank Thomas and regular passenger Roberta Holmes sit in front of the burned-out shell of a "Freedom Bus" on May 14, 1961.

Get On the Bus: The Freedom Riders of 1961
National Public Radio
January 12, 2006


In 1961, the Freedom Riders set out for the Deep South to defy Jim Crow laws and call for change. They were met by hatred and violence — and local police often refused to intervene. But the Riders' efforts transformed the civil rights movement.


Raymond Arsenault is the author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. The book details how volunteers — both black and white — traveled to Mississippi and Alabama to fight segregation in transit systems.


Despite being backed by recent federal rulings that it was unconstitutional to segregate bus riders, the Freedom Riders met with obstinate resistance — as in Birmingham and Montgomery, where white supremacists attacked bus depots themselves.


In Freedom Riders, Arsenault details how the first Freedom Rides developed, from the personal level to the legal maneuvering involved. His narrative touches on elements from the jails of Alabama to the Kennedy White House.


Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and co-director of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. His previous writing includes Land of Sunshine,State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida and Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights, which he edited.


Read an excerpt from Freedom Riders: Read more



Public Broadcasting Service
PBS - American Experience
The Freedom Rides

James Peck, seated on a hospital gurney in Birmingham, Alabama, following attack on a Freedom Riders bus.


Roster of Freedom Riders


Freedom Riders

U.S. National Guardsmen and Mississippi Marshals, seen through a bus window as Freedom Riders make a stop on bus trip from Montgomery, Ala., to Jackson, Miss.

Open Mind Round Table With Malcolm X, James Farmer, Wyatt T. Walker and Alan Morrison. YouTube