Sunday, May 15, 2011

Freedom Riders documentary

Another great PBS  documentary, The Freedom Riders, will premiere on Monday May 16. (Most places 9/8C.) 


Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

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.
From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till)

FREEDOM RIDERS features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault's book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

I've seen shortened versions of the documentary twice, as part of the Tallgrass Film Festival and at the Kansas African American Museum, and recommend it enthusiastically.

I also like the book that the Freedom Riders documentary is based on: Raymond Arsenault's Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice As part of the documentary promotion, Arsenault has prepared a significantly abridged version of the book (roughly 320 vs 700 pages). PBS is offering a special deal on a DVD and the abridged book.

I should also add that there is an excellent website for Freedom Riders.

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