This American Experience episode recounts the heroic actions and harrowing experiences of civil rights activists who, from May to December 1961, traveled by bus through the American South to test and challenge unlawfully segregated transportation centers. Riders endured beatings, attempts on their lives, and imprisonment, all to publicize the cause of equal rights until the federal government agreed to enforce its desegregation laws—"the first unambiguous victory of the civil rights movement." Commentary by riders themselves, other movement figures, state and federal officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand meets powerful primary source footage and photos. Teacher's guide included in pdf format. (Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
is the book on which the program was based.) Grades 7 and up. Color and black-and-white. 120 minutes. PBS. ©2011.
View the trailer for this program