On May 16 on PBS will air the riveting documentary “Freedom Riders.” I have been fortunate to preview the first hour of this excellent film. From The National Intelligence Report, “In May 1961, the first freedom riders headed south on buses from all over the country to fight segregation. They faced angry mobs who beat them and firebombed their buses, but 450 volunteers persevered for the next five months. ‘Walking into the ‘Whites Only’ waiting room in the Jackson, Mississippi, train station was chilling,’ recalls Helen Singleton, 78, who spent 39 days in jail for actions. ‘But back then, my family couldn’t stop for lunch or use a restroom on a 14-hour car trip to visit my grandmother. We had to do something about hate in America.’ The Freedom Riders’ bravery paid off–segregation was ultimately struckdown. ‘We took the fight for civil liberties out of the courtroom and into the streets,’ says Roy Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, which organized the first bus protests. ‘Black and white Americans stood together and put themselves on the line to make the world a better place for our children. One of those children was Barack Obama–born in Auguest 1961, just a few months after the Freedom Rides began.'”
I was in the ninth grade in May of 1961.