Fifty years ago this month, the Freedom Riders — a group of seven black and six white civil rights activists –embarked on a journey from Washington D.C. to New Orleans on a series of interstate busses. Along the way, they challenged segregation rules aboard busses, in restaurants, rest stops and elsewher. The riders faced threats, arrest and violence, but also drew national attention to their cause, and became an example to civil rights activists everywhere.
Today NPR ran a story called “Remembering The 'Freedom Riders,' 50 Years Later” discussing this anniversary. A new documentary titled Freedom Riders will air this month on PBS. You can listen to the story here, and if this sparks your interest in the civil rights movement, the University of Nebraska Press has three books you might want to check out.
Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey by Ana Maria Spagna explores the author's father's roll in a similar experiment in desegregation, when he and five other young men boarded a white bus called the Sunnyland inTallahassee, Florida.
The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central: High School Basketball at the ’68 Racial Divide by Steve Marantz is the story of Omaha Central basketball team’s first all-black starting lineup, which qualified for the state tournament just before George Wallace came to town and the city nearly erupted in violence.
And forthcoming from UNP is Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism by John R.Salter Jr. is the story of the civil rights movement in Jackson, told by one of its foremost activists.