On May 4, 1961, 13 ordinary people – seven of them black, six of them white – set off from Washington DC on a bus ride to protest segregation in the Southern states. While decisions barring segregation on buses had been previously been established, local police departments were deliberately ignoring enforcement, and separate bus seats, waiting rooms and drinking fountains were still in place.
Freedom Riders on the bus, looking warily at police and National Guard troops
Known as the Freedom Riders, these courageous citizens made sure they sat on the bus in interracial parings, with at least one black rider sitting in the front of the bus.
Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders set afire on May 14, 1961 in Annis ton, Alabama
The violence they encountered on their trip through the South, and its subsequent impact on the Nation’s consciousness, helped promote the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Movement.
During the final week in January, the PC Student Multicultural Affairs, Phillips Memorial Library, and other PC clubs and departments are co-sponsoring programs based on this historic movement.
On Tuesday, January 28th, the film “Freedom Riders: will be shown at 5:30 PM in ’64 Hall.
On Thursday, January 30th, three of the original Freedom Riders – Paul Breines, Ellen Ziskind and Jean Denton-Thompson – will be in the Ruane Great Room at 7:00 PM to tell us about their experiences over 50 years ago.
Want to learn more?
Read about the film “Freedom Riders” – you can also view the film in its entirety from this site, at any time.
Read PC’s copy of Freedom riders : 1961 and the struggle for racial justice by Raymond Arsenault on your tablet, computer, laptop or smartphone.
Can’t attend the Freedom Riders talk on January 30th? Watch it via PC’s LiveStream access page.
Complete sponsors list:
SMA, SOAR, History, BOP Diversity committee, BMSA Diversity committee, Afro- Am, Sociology, Black Studies,Political Science, Humanities, School of Arts and Sciences,, Public & Community Services, Sociology, American Studies Program, DWC, Institutional Diversity, Feinstein Institute, Phillips Memorial Library, NEH Created Equal Grant, and the RI Historical Society.