Freedom Riders

Episode Guide »

The story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists - the Freedom Riders - who challenged segregation across the American South in the early 1960s and risked their lives for social change.

Premieres on VPT Monday, May 16, at 9 p.m.

Watch online exclusives from the film.



Vermont's Freedom Riders

Share Your Story

More than 400 Americans risked their lives as Freedom Riders in the Summer of 1961, deliberately violating Jim Crows laws in the Deep South. Did you participate in the Freedom Rides or later actions of the Civil Rights Movement? Is there any issue today for which you would risk your life?

Thank You

By Jimmie Moorer Centreville, Va

Date Submitted: February 22, 2015

Thank you to all the Freedom Riders during the 60's that brought unity to our highways. Your courage makes me pound of not just being an Afro-American male but an American. Bless you all Freedom Riders! You traveled and made history at the same time.

Hank Thomas

By Ricky Finch ATL GA

Date Submitted: January 2, 2015

In The Summer Of 1968, I Had The Opportunity To Meet One Of The Freedom Riders, Mr. Hank Thomas, I Went To The Diary Queen On The Corner Of Sells Ave. & Ashby Street In Atlanta, Georgia To Interview For A Job, I Was Interviewed By Mr. Thomas.

Mr. Thomas Commented On How I Was Dressed And The Way I Presented Myself, However, I Did Not Get Hired Due To The Fact Mr. Thomas Had His Team Already In Place, He Stated I Was A Little Too Late, If I Had Arrived Sooner I Would Have Been A Part Of The Diary Queen Team, I Walked Away Feeling Defeated, However, My Self Esteem Was Lifted By The Words He Said.

To This Day I Will Never Forget Meeting Mr. Thomas And The Impact He Made On My Life.

I Would Like To Thank Mr. Thomas For His Dedication To The Civil Rights Movement, Uplifting Of A Young Man In The Late 60s & His Love For His People.

God Bless Us All....

The Sisters!

By Liani Greaves Brooklyn

Date Submitted: December 4, 2014

This clip is a brief excerpt of 15 hours of recordings that document the lives of 4 generations of American women. They are my paternal mothers -- The Sanders Women. Their story begins near 1845 in Shreveport, Louisiana. This historically significant narrative moves off the slave plantation, up the Great migration, through Chicago's Jazz band scene, the roaring twenties, into the Great Depression in Harlem and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.The sisters, passing for white at will, glided between the chorus lines of the Cotton club uptown to the Zeigfield Follies on Broadway. Included on the recordings are stories of ommunist recruitment meetings, J. Edgar Hoover's 'other' life and the American Negro Theater in Harlem.

Our Josephine

By Margaret and Katherine King Oxford, MS

Date Submitted: August 8, 2014

In the summer of 1957, we--9-year old identical (white) twins--were shipped off to Vicksburg, MS to spend a week with our Grandmother and Great-grandmother (Mother Kirk). 16-year old African American Josephine Harris was the caretaker for Mother Kirk who was 88 years old unable to care for herself. Josephine came in two hours a day (4-6 pm) and we fell in love with her. She quickly became our best friend and we never forgot how she made us feel loved that week in July 1957. She still lives in Vicksburg (Marcus Bottom) and is one of the most positive, happiest people we've ever know. Her dream is to have a two-bedroom house on the lot next door to her existing home. All of the profits from Our Josephine will go toward first repairing her existing house then building her a new house. She took two innocent girls under her wing and we learned so much about the inequalities (separate but unequal) that existed in 1957. We couldn't understand why she couldn't walk between on the sidewalk--why did she have to walk behind us? This is the gentle side of race relations and has been said to be: To Kill a Mockingbird meets The Help. It's a great lesson in history and when we go into schools and tell students about Our Josephine, they are surprised and shocked by the things that Josephine had to endure--simply because of her skin color. Our Josephine is a tribute to her!

Read More Stories or Share Your Own

Classroom Materials

"American Experience" has partnered with Facing History and Ourselves to develop classroom materials for use with the film. Check out the guide, related resources and other helpful digital media resources available from Teacher's Domain.
Read More

Visit the Official "Freedom Riders" Site

Use the interactive map to retrace the Freedom Rides, meet the people involved and read about the important and related issues of 1961.
Read More


Share your thoughts, questions, and comments on "Freedom Riders" here.

Vermont PBS educates, informs, entertains and inspires Vermonters to be lifelong learners and engaged in their community.

Kids' Club

Watch our Vermont PBS Kids' 24/7 channel. Enjoy the benefits of joining our Kids' Club! Explore our many free videos, games, and resources for educators and parents!

2017 Vermont PBS KIDS' Writers Contest!

Do you love to tell stories? If you’re in Kindergarten through 5th grade, you can write and illustrate a story for Vermont PBS.

Vermont Film Youth Contest Launches its 3rd Year and Opens the Contest to Middle Schoolers!

Calling all filmmakers ages 10-30 who live or go to school in Vermont! Win cash prizes and share your work on Vermont PBS and at film festivals statewide in the 2017 Freedom & Unity TV Vermont Youth Film Contest. Visit for details. Deadline is March 26, 2017.

$3,500 Work-in-Progress Filmmaking Award

Sponsored by Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie. If you are a Vermont filmmaker working on a film that was shot in, or includes a Vermont theme, visit for info and eligibility. Deadline is Feb.15, 2017.



Upcoming and featured!

People talk about Vermont PBS! proudly supported in part by...

Enter the Masterpiece 2017 Sweepstakes now through March 15 for a chance to win a trip for two adults to tour film locations for Victoria, Sherlock and Downton Abbey. Other monthly prizes includes Masterpiece merchandise from shopPBS.
Click here to enter daily!

Vermont PBS

204 Ethan Allen Avenue
Colchester, VT 05446
(802) 655-4800
© 2017 Vermont PBS
All Rights Reserved

Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn