Freedom RidersEpisode 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.
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Vermont's Freedom Riders
Share Your StoryMore 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?
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.
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!
By Terri Lyons United States
Date Submitted: June 17, 2014
Thank you all for your fight, your might and your determination. I honor you, I write about you and do what I can to teach our youth about the long, hard, hot struggles washed with blood for a better day. God Bless you all
By Azayla Rodriguez E
Date Submitted: May 2, 2014
This story behind all The Freedom Riders and the movement is empowering. It amazing me what people can do if they get together and believe in being treated right and fairly.
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.
Visit the Official "Freedom Riders" SiteUse the interactive map to retrace the Freedom Rides, meet the people involved and read about the important and related issues of 1961.