Freedom rider broadcast Monday night (Transit, public accommodations, civil rights and integration)
Six days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery city buses must integrate, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and others challenged the law in Birmingham, Ala., by joining white passengers on a city bus, Dec. 26, 1956. Shuttlesworth boarded the bus hours after a bomb exploded inside his Collegeville, Ala., house. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Robert Adams)
I screwed up in my transit roundup yesterday by forgetting to mention the broadcast of the PBS-TV program American Experience's broadcast of a show on the "Freedom Riders."
It will be rebroadcast Monday night and throughout the week, in DC, and elsewhere across the country.
While I didn't like some of the way the program was laid out (insertions of songs by today's performers, such as Joss Stone, to me they detracted from the narrative), the first part of the program was not about the Freedom Riders so much as it was about the Montgomery bus boycott and campaigns to end segregation on public transit (which then was mostly privately owned but publicly regulated). There is some great footage and images in the program showing empty buses, protests, etc.
The Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (1960) ruled that segregation in interstate bus terminals was illegal. The Freedom Riders campaign extended the campaign for integration across the South, by testing whether or not terminals (cities) followed the law. Blacks and whites rode together in inter-city buses (Greyhound and Trailways) to various cities. The campaign against the Freedom Riders ended up being quite violent. Buses were bombed and destroyed.
A Freedom Riders bus went up in flames when a fire bomb was tossed through a window near Anniston, Ala. Ambulance drivers refused to take injured black riders to area hospitals. AP file photograph.
The AP story from December 2010, "'Freedom Riders' filmmaker says ordinary citizens can bring about change," interviews the filmmaker.
Hopefully the program will be repeated so that more people can watch it.
According to a press release from WETA-TV, the local PBS affiliate:
Two students from local universities have been selected to join the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, an experimental learning opportunity for college students in conjunction with the broadcast of "Freedom Riders" and the 50th anniversary of the original May 1961 Freedom Riders. From May 6-16, Tania Smith from American University and Michellay Cole from University of Maryland will join original Freedom Riders in retracing the 1961 Rides from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans, LA.