Freedom Riders

Recent Articles

Freedom Summer revisits Mississippi’s voting rights history

Award-winning filmmaker credits his career to those who risked their lives for change
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

An oft-overlooked but important part of the Civil Rights Movement is the focus of Freedom Summer, which premiers on American Experience Tuesday, June 24 and will be shown locally on TPT Channel 2 at 8 pm. Bob Moses, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) local secretary, came up with a plan in 1964 to bring over 700 student volunteers, mostly from the North, to the South for a 10-week stint during the summer to help locals fighting for voting rights for Blacks in Mississippi. That state’s Black registered voters were less than seven percent at that time compared to 50-70 percent in other southern states. Later known as “Freedom Summer,” the Mississippi Summer Project was also intended “to force the media and the country to take notice of the shocking violence and massive injustice taking place in Mississippi.” Sadly, the country did take notice as, after a week into the program’s start, three volunteers went missing and were later found brutally murdered. Moses, NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond and U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton are among the 32 individuals filmmaker Stanley Nelson interviews in Freedom Summer. Continue Reading →

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Documentaries detail sacrifices of Freedom Riders

Freedom Riders is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism. The documentary, directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till), airs on Tuesday, June 17 at 8 pm and Wednesday, June 18 at 2 am on TPT. Check back for a full interview with Stanley Nelson, who also directed Freedom Summer, which premiers on TPT June 24. Continue Reading →

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“Ask What You Can Do For Your Country”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Contributing Writer

 

“It should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live.” — From the speech President John F. Kennedy planned to deliver on November 22, 1963.  

I was a brand new law school graduate in my first months of work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City on that fateful November day 50 years ago. I had begun the day visiting a young Black male death row client in a rural Georgia prison accused of killing a White farmer and had returned to Atlanta where I was sitting in a courthouse library researching how many Blacks and Whites had been executed in Georgia’s history. Continue Reading →

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Freedom Rider shares his story with Minnesotans

 
Ernest Patton, Jr. tells untold story of Nashville’s importance to Civil Rights Movement

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Nashville, Tennessee is more known for its country music roots, but the city also has strong roots in the Civil Rights Movement, says civil rights activist Ernest “Rip” Patton, Jr. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas’ Tolerance Minnesota sponsored Patton’s October 11-12 visit, where he met with local high school students as well as college students at St. Cloud State University. Patton always wanted to be in music, and his initial goals included teaching music in school. His teaching plans were put on hiatus after he became involved in the Nashville movement in 1961 that led to the eventual integration of the city’s downtown lunch counters. He was featured in Freedom Riders, a PBS documentary based on the book of the same name. Continue Reading →

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