Freedom Riders

Freedom Riders

The Freedom Riders were approximately 400 black and white Americans who (at great personal risk) traveled on buses through the Deep South in violation of Jim Crow segregation laws, for six months starting May 4, 1961. Along the way, they were met with violence and hatred. Eventually the country woke up to the injustice of these laws. On September 22, 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued a federal order to end segregation in bus and train stations.

Freedom Riders Resource Handout for Classroom or Homeschool: Just $2.00

Facing History: Freedom Riders5 stars

Created as a student portal for the PBS film Freedom Riders (see site review below), Facing History offers a downloadable student guide titled Democracy in Action, a gallery of film excerpts, and a short intro to the film. "Says filmmaker Stanley Nelson, 'The lesson of the Freedom Rides is that great change can come from a few small steps taken by courageous people. And that sometimes to do any great thing, it's important that we step out alone.'"

Freedom Rides: Recollections by David Fankhauser4 stars

1961, David Fankhauser was a nineteen-year-old chemistry major at Central State College in Wilberforce, OH. On May 24, 1961, after a haircut and a shave, he flew to Montgomery, AL to join the Freedom Riders. Today, Fankhauser is a professor of Biology and Chemistry at University of Cincinnati. Visit his site to read his first person account of his experiences on the ride including his arrest in Jackson, MS, and the time he spent in the Maximum Security Unit of the Parchman State Penitentiary.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History: Freedom Rides Revisited5 stars

"How Far Would You Go?" is an interactive lesson that takes you step-by-step on a virtual Freedom Ride. "Your goal is to integrate the stations and terminals throughout the South, although you know you will face major resistance ahead." For example, after being attacked by an angry mob in the Rock Hill Greyhound station, will you continue the journey, or take the next bus home?

PBS: Freedom Riders5 stars

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the bus rides, the PBS film Freedom Riders premiers on May 16, 2011. The film tells the "inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever." Visit for short bios of the "Players" which include the Freedom Riders, civic rights leaders, and key government figures and a timeline of important events. "Explore the Issues" explains Jim Crow laws, discusses the role of the Cold War, and why this particular nonviolent dissent was so effective.

PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow5 stars

"Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, 'Jim Crow' came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States." The story of the "century of segregation" begins in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. This companion website to the PBS four-part television series (of the same name) does not cover the Freedom Riders themselves, but rather provides excellent background to the times leading up to the Sixties.

Freedom Riders Resource Handout for Classroom or Homeschool: Just $2.00

Honorable Mentions

The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

Breach of Peace

Congress of Racial Equality: The Freedom Rides

Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary

University of Mississippi: Freedom Riders: The Children Shall Lead


Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Freedom Riders." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/freedom-riders/ >.


About This Page

By . Originally published April 26, 2011. Last modified April 26, 2011.

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Price: $2.93
Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement
Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement
Price: $9.25
Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Price: $5.18