Freedom Riders

About the Show

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: In 1961, during the first year of John F. Kennedy's presidency, more than 400 Americans participated in a bold and dangerous experiment designed to awaken the conscience of a complacent nation. Inspired by visions of social revolution and moral regeneration, these self-proclaimed 'Freedom Riders' challenged the mores of a racially segregated society by performing a disarmingly simple act. Travelling together in small interracial groups, they sat where they pleased on buses and trains and demanded unrestricted access to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms, even in areas of the Deep South where such behaviour was forbidden by law and custom. This special two-hour presentation, from award-winning producer Stanley Nelson, will tell the dramatic story behind the Freedom Rides.