I dislike people being labeled, however I will identify myself as a WASP just so you know my background. Having grown up in what was then an all-white Unicoi County, TN, I had never had a social relationship with a person of color until I was serving my mandatory military obligation. What an eye opener that was--to discover that my fellow soldiers were pretty much the same, regardless of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs/non-beliefs. By the time I got back to the USA, a black man had become one of my dearest friends. Though settled in places like NH, PA, TX and FL, four of our military unit stayed in touch over the years, until old-age thinned us out until now only I remain. 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.
My father (Chester Graham) was the trainer featured on the documentary. 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.
I've shown this movie to my freshmen English students at the college where I teach dozens of times, and it never fails to shock my students, most of whom are young African Americans. Most of them had no idea who the Freedom Riders were and how much they sacrificed so that these students and their parents could have many of the freedoms they have today. Most of them had never heard of the characters who were in the movie other than JFK and MLK and they learned some pretty interesting and controversial things about these two men who everyone thinks are perfect. In this movie, we find out that "they have feet of clay," as the narrator says about MLK, but the same can be said of the early days of JFK. The bravery of the Riders is astonishing. The fact that many of them were white is a revelation to many of my students as well, and there is also some humor thrown in so the movie is not deadly serious at all times. One of the best I've ever seen.
I used this film in my US history class and in all 4 of my classes, students were both riveted and inspired. I don't generally use film, or at least entire films. But this one so engaged high, low and middle learners and everyone developed an A game to bring to the discussion and essay on the topic of Freedom Rides. It was a lesson to me in how the content impacts the product teachers get from students. I have immigrants, native born, every ethnicity you could imagine - almost - and everyone was moved, inspired, and mobilized to recognize and speak out against not just racism but sexism, homophobia, and 'immigrantism' (ok - don't think that is a word, but you know what I mean,).
Sweet Honey in the Rock have a song - We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest. That's why we need to see this movie.
I showed this to my fifth and sixth grade students as we were studying peace makers and race relations. I cut out a couple parts after previewing as they were not appropriate for that age. It had a strong effect on them and heightened their awareness. for me, I was very interested in this film and learned a lot. I have a tremendous respect for all those who fought for equal rights, even more so after watching this. Very well done.
I even went online and located one of the freedom riders from the movie and he came and spoke to my class!
Powerful, moving, and engrossing documentary. One of the best I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. One thing that makes it so good is the interviews of a surprising number of people who were there and are still alive. Freedom Riders, an ex southern governor, Kennedy administration staff, and media who filmed it. Just an incredible story. I thought I already knew civil rights history. Not so! Like any great documentary, it educates you and blows you away with things you never knew. This does that, and makes you feel like you're there, with the interviews. Add to that the suspense of not knowing what happens, like a good movie. When a documentary has you on edge of your seat, you know it’s a winner! An important period in american history that we must never forget. Buy it.
Saw this on PBS years ago, and it was still great viewing. Remember as a young girl, watching tv news reports about the Freedom Riders. They were a brave lot and now it's a great DVD explaining the why, who and where. This should be in every High school for students to watch and have an understanding about the civil rights struggle. If you like American history and the story of a people to be able to just travel freely across the South, get this Movie and you will have a more real understanding about America.This was a reasonable $ and worth the money. I recommend this. The picture black and white, reflecting the real film taken at the time live and the dangers of those behind the camera's. Sound was good also.
To view this DVD is to be inspired, but also reminded of the bravery and dedication it took to finally allow African Americans their rightful place in America. I don't know how many of us would have found the courage to take on the morally bankrupt system of segregation. To watch what John Lewis, and other young people like him suffered, to give voice to the cause of true equality,brings to mind the words of Dr. King that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it eventually bends toward justice". The story also serves as a reminder that was gained, must never be surrendered.
People think I am exaggerating when I describe some of the horrible events that occurred during the freedom rides. Police forces were told to stand down and allow these people to be savaged. Buses were set on fire with people inside them. Outrageous ideas and hate speech were openly expressed. You have to see this to get a real sense of how intense a revolution the freedom riders brought with their willingness to die for equality. Sadly, I doubt many US citizens have this kind of guts today.
I saw "Freedom Riders" on PBS and it raised several emotions in me. Awe, at what an excellent documentary it is. Shame, at the story it told. Tension, because though I had a general idea of "what happened" at the beginning of the civil rights movement, I didn't know this specific story. Where and by who were the Freedom Riders going to be threatened next as they ventured further south? It could only end badly when law enforcement is complicit in the one-sided violence.
I didn't write a review for "Freedom Riders" when I saw it, but I'm compelled to do so now, because I just saw the movie, "The Help". Both films take place in the early 1960's and my mind boggles at the fear, no, terror, on which Jim Crow was based. Granted, "The Help" is fiction, but it tells a riviting, and from what I've read, true-to-life story.
The Freedom Riders had one goal. Riding buses where blacks and whites sat together on the same bus and where-ever they wanted, and also sat together at the bus stations. And when they got to a town, they tried to eat together at the same restaurants. As they got plenty of attention, it got so the bus was anticipated on arrival. People were lying in wait for them. They were beaten just getting off the bus, much less anything else. It was brutal, including a time when some locals actually tried to burn the riders alive in the bus.
This is a wrenching documentary to watch, but full of such interesting facts that I highly recommend it. What these people went through, all volunteers, took courage that I really don't think I have.