American Experience: Freedom Riders
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This inspirational documentary is about a band of courageous civil rights activists calling themselves the Freedom Riders. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, it chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.
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What provocative demonstration were they undertaking? RIDING PUBLIC INTERSTATE BUSES. A simple, even banal right. For this they were beaten, jailed, and sent to Mississippi's notorious Parchman prison. Crammed together and abused, they made of it, as now-Congressman Carl Lewis calls it, "our university."
Some were white, and had travelled long distances, obeying an inner pull.
Throughout, they refused to hate. Why let someone else choose your emotions? Sing, as you deny them that power.
They were touched by something hard to describe, but impressively moving. This film is a treasure, but let us not tie it in a ribbon and place it on a shelf. Let us not file it under "Civil Rights movement, long ago." It models what we need today.
In the 1980s my black buddie visited me in FL, and I confessed to him that I felt guilt for not having been active during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He then told me that he too felt shame for being so wrapped up in raising his family and work that he did not join in that struggle.
My personal feeling is that viewing this movie should become a mandatory part of the American History courses in our public schools, and hopefully in our private schools as well. We must do our best to educate our youngsters, in order to avoid another such dark time in the history of our beloved United States of America.
I wanted to go but they wouldn't let me: I was 12 years old.
It was exciting to see my father in action. He was the tall one and was 69 years old at the time. They would not let him go because of his age. His Friend Walter Bergman (not featured on the documentary) was the oldest one to go and was trampled on the floor of the bus and permanently paralyzed. Walter Bergman lived to be 100 and my father lived to be 96. My father also knew James Peck and other Freedom Riders.
Sweet Honey in the Rock have a song - We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest. That's why we need to see this movie.