Freedom Riders
They were black and white, young and old, men and women. In the spring and summer of 1961, they put their lives on the line, riding buses through the American South to challenge segregation in interstate transport. Their story is one of the most celebrated episodes of the civil rights movement, yet a full-length history has never been written until now. In these pages, acclaimed historian Raymond Arsenault provides a gripping account of six pivotal months that jolted the consciousness of America.The Freedom Riders were greeted with hostility, fear, and violence. They were jailed and beaten, their buses stoned and firebombed. In Alabama, police stood idly by as racist thugs battered them. When Martin Luther King met the Riders in Montgomery, a raging mob besieged them in a church. Arsenault recreates these moments with heart-stopping immediacy. His tightly braided narrative reaches from the White House--where the Kennedys were just awakening to the moral power of the civil rights struggle--to the cells of Mississippi's infamous Parchman Prison, where Riders tormented their jailers with rousing freedom anthems. Along the way, he offers vivid portraits of dynamic figures such as James Farmer, Diane Nash, John Lewis, and Fred Shuttlesworth, recapturing the drama of an improbable, almost unbelievable saga of heroic sacrifice and unexpected triumph.The Riders were widely criticized as reckless provocateurs, or "outside agitators." But indelible images of their courage, broadcast to the world by a newly awakened press, galvanized the movement for racial justice across the nation. Freedom Riders is a stunning achievement, a masterpiece of storytelling that will stand alongside the finest works on the history of civil rights.

Freedom Riders Details

TitleFreedom Riders
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 19th, 2007
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN0195327144
ISBN-139780195327144
Number of pages704 pages
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Politics, North American Hi..., American History, Cultural, African American, Race

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Freedom Riders Review

  • Mikey B.
    November 21, 2012
    An excellent narrative history of the Freedom Bus rides of 1961. This is “on the ground” history with details of the bus rides and the horrendous events surrounding them – the Anniston bus burnings, the racist beatings in Birmingham and Montgomery. Mr. Arsenault tells the story as history in the making – at the time in question the bus riders did not have the advantage of forty-five year hind-sight.The author portrays well the myriad characters who organized these rides as well as their Southern An excellent narrative history of the Freedom Bus rides of 1961. This is “on the ground” history with details of the bus rides and the horrendous events surrounding them – the Anniston bus burnings, the racist beatings in Birmingham and Montgomery. Mr. Arsenault tells the story as history in the making – at the time in question the bus riders did not have the advantage of forty-five year hind-sight.The author portrays well the myriad characters who organized these rides as well as their Southern antagonists. It still remains incomprehensible the level of hatred, racism, and intolerance that white southerners manifested to their fellow human beings. One must remember that these beatings by mobs were orchestrated by the White Southern power structure. The state and municipal (as well as the F.B.I.) gave whole-hearted backing to the Ku Klux Klan to pursue and assault the Freedom Riders. Raymond Arsenault depicts the ambivalence of the Kennedy administration wavering between the Southern state governments (to whom they owed their election victory) and the moral imperative of civil rights. Their reaction, as Arsenault suggests, was more political than moral.Robert Kennedy was very reluctant to even send a few hundred federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders who were besieged in a church by a mob tossing Molotov cocktails.There are various heroes and groups portrayed – from Irene Morgan in 1944 who refused to leave the “white section” of a bus to Diane Nash who continued the Freedom Rides after their initial “failure” in Anniston and Birmingham.It would seem that when the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) passed a law prohibiting discrimination on buses and their affiliated distributors (like restaurants, waiting rooms…) that most southern governments grudgingly started the process of de-segregation.There is a touching passage in the epilogue where Freedom Rider Walter Bergman successfully sued the F.B.I. in 1982-83 for negligence in its failure to protect U.S. citizens. Walter Bergman suffered permanent injuries from the beating of the mob in Birmingham. The F.B.I. knew well (from its informants) that the Ku Klux Klan was gathering to meet the Freedom Riders.
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  • Nancy
    August 20, 2011
    I got caught up in reading other books and didn't get to this one until a few days before it was due at the library so was unable to finish it. My husband read it while I was frittering away my time on other things and was much impressed--probably a 5 star book for him. This book is amazingly detailed for an "abridged" edition. The on-the-ground activities of the Freedom Riders and the political maneuvering of the Kennedy administration seem to be equally well documented. I was surprised to lear I got caught up in reading other books and didn't get to this one until a few days before it was due at the library so was unable to finish it. My husband read it while I was frittering away my time on other things and was much impressed--probably a 5 star book for him. This book is amazingly detailed for an "abridged" edition. The on-the-ground activities of the Freedom Riders and the political maneuvering of the Kennedy administration seem to be equally well documented. I was surprised to learn that there had been earlier efforts to enforce integrated travel on interstate buses starting in the 1940s. However, most of the book deals with the Freedom Rider campaign that took place in the early 1960s. This is well worth reading for details on this pivotal time in American history.
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  • Mariam
    November 15, 2011
    A book to read and reread, outlining the very moving and compelling history of the 1961 Freedom Riders movement.
  • Trudy
    October 23, 2011
    The determination of a few gave equality to many. It's hard to believe this happened only a little over 50 years ago. Getting on a bus to cross state lines and challenge laws in the South took great courage and conviction. Again, how is it that people are so "cruel" to those not like them. It takes generations for behavior to be un-learned. This book reads much like a a text book, but is worth reading. Many compelling stories and incidents.
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  • Sarah Sledge
    February 9, 2013
    I am so thankful to add this powerful book to my very limited bank of knowledge. I recommend it to everyone who hasn't done so already. Read it! Know it! And carry its message with you. These tremendously brave men and women exemplify the spirit of the best humanity has to offer. Wonderfully written and researched.
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  • Brad
    June 7, 2015
    When I picked up this book, I was reluctant because I was skeptical that I would learn anything that I didn't already know. It was thick, with 528 pages of text, and I noticed that the pages were filled, leaving not much white space, and the font was small compared to other books I was reading. And all of this writing was devoted to an episode that occurred over the course of six months! I had seen the documentary from 1986 called 'Eyes on the Prize'. I had read the two substantial chapters abou When I picked up this book, I was reluctant because I was skeptical that I would learn anything that I didn't already know. It was thick, with 528 pages of text, and I noticed that the pages were filled, leaving not much white space, and the font was small compared to other books I was reading. And all of this writing was devoted to an episode that occurred over the course of six months! I had seen the documentary from 1986 called 'Eyes on the Prize'. I had read the two substantial chapters about the Freedom Rides from the first volume of Taylor Branch's epic account of the movement 'Parting the Waters.' I had also read about the rides in memoirs by John Lewis ('Walking with the Wind') and Kwame Ture ('Ready for Revolution').What Arsenault does here is slow the narrative down, almost like watching a movie frame-by-frame. This may seem tedious but I was enthralled the whole time. Each rider is introduced as are all the peripheral players (movement leaders, governors, mayors, chiefs of police, Klansmen, the President, the Attorney General, average citizens, etc.) and the events are solidly contextualized as they occur. This may be too much for the average reader who is interested but doesn't have time to wade through all of these intricate details. For them, there is an abridged version, but I'm thankful that this one exists and hope that more events and figures of the movement will be analyzed as thoroughly as was done here.The amazing thing about the Freedom Riders, when you consider how much violence and disruption their actions precipitated, is that this strategy was unique in the movement as an example of civil obedience as opposed to civil disobedience. The riders were taking advantage of a right that had already been established by the Supreme Court in 1946, when segregation of interstate transportation was ruled unconstitutional. The Congress of Racial Equality even formally challenged the southern states to comply by traveling as an integrated group through the states of the upper south (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky) in 1947. They were challenged but did not face the depth of resistance and brutality that faced future riders venturing farther into the deep south in 1961.As the 1961 riders entered Alabama, they were firebombed, beaten and otherwise brutalized by an organized assembly of local whites. The FBI was aware that these explosions would occur and intentionally failed to inform the Kennedy administration or the riders themselves. In fact, one of the most enthusiastic participants in the brawl in Birmingham was an FBI informant who had been undercover with the Klan named Gary Thomas Rowe. The Kennedys were sometimes allies, but they were extremely impatient with this strategy because of the violence it provoked and the embarrassment caused by these news stories internationally. Even the major civil rights organizations (NAACP, etc.) cautioned against provocative direct-action tactics and proposed that these issues should be resolved in courts of law.Ironically, this issue was already resolved! The beauty of the actions of the riders was in the revelation to the rest of the United States how intransigent the Jim Crow south could be in defense of segregation. The federal government was forced to react when the situation got messy. But this situation would never have gotten messy if the riders did not force Jim Crow to react. This book has a great cast of characters and I loved the background details, but make sure you have enough spare time for it.
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  • James Klagge
    December 27, 2011
    This was well worth reading. Even though I know a lot about the civil rights movement, I knew much less about this 1961 portion than I had thought. Everyone knows that Rosa Parks desegregated bus transportation in 1955 by initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That was a courageous and significant act. But its significance was largely symbolic, as it had virtually no effect in actually changing laws or customs in the South. This book shows the depth and extent of Southern resistance to desegrega This was well worth reading. Even though I know a lot about the civil rights movement, I knew much less about this 1961 portion than I had thought. Everyone knows that Rosa Parks desegregated bus transportation in 1955 by initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That was a courageous and significant act. But its significance was largely symbolic, as it had virtually no effect in actually changing laws or customs in the South. This book shows the depth and extent of Southern resistance to desegregation, which was still fully entrenched in 1961. Unlike the 1961 Greensboro lunch counter desegregation, which was well-defined in time and space, the freedom rides were quite diverse geographically, and happened over a period of about 6 months, and were somewhat ambiguous in terms of what they achieved. They were not definitive legally. And it was really only quite recently, especially through the 2006 edition of this book, that the real sigificance of the freedom rides was assessed and fully appreciated. The freedom rides were the first systematic use of non-violent resistence, based very intentionally on Gandhi's precedent. This was important since it led to a bus being bombed with passengers in it, and led to 2 sigificant riots at bus terminals in Birmingham and Montgomery with multiple injuries. And it led to hundreds of freedom riders being imprisoned in Mississippi's notorious and violent Parchman's Farm for periods of a month. In the face of these dangers, riders never responded in any way but with non-violent resistence. It is amazing that no one died. The freedom rides did not have any single or few heroes. But one of the figures mentioned many times in this account was James Bevel. One of my friends knew him (he died in 2008), and so I had heard of him before. Bevel was a significant figure in the civil rights movement, operating fully as an equal with MLK in the 1960's. In this book Bevel comes across as the most vocal and committed of the riders. Yet his life was a tragic one. He ended up hating all whites and moving to the extreme right on the political spectrum in the 1990's, and also had significant difficulties in his personal life. The untold story I heard about Bevel, that accounted for his personal disintegration, was this. In 1968 Bevel had King's personal phone number, but once when he tried to call from a noisy bar Coretta didn't recognize him and wouldn't put his call through to King. In anger he tore out that page in his black book. Shortly before the Memphis strike, Bevel got certain information that King would be shot if he went to Memphis. But having thrown away the personal number, Bevel was not able to get through to King to warn him not to come. After King's death, one night in a deep sleep King visited Bevel and said "until you can acknowledge your own responsibility in my death you will never be at peace"--confirming King's insistence that when we hate anyone anywhere we kill someone else somewhere else. Apparently this prophecy gradually but surely destroyed him. But he did accomplish incredibly important things in his life both before and even after this episode. He was instrumental in the 1995 Million-Man March in Washington DC. Bevel was one of hundreds of committed young people, black and white, who braved the dangers of the deep South to test and bring moral attention to racial injustices.
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  • Gregg Wingo
    November 11, 2013
    Being a good historian Dr. Arsenault has obeyed the 50-year rule of historical research but just barely with this abridged edition. Covering the civil rights event known as the Freedom Rides he provides us with both a powerful story and the factual detail to support it. It is also has a companion film of the same name produced as part of PBS' American Experience. There is, of course, also available the unabridged version for the serious student of history.This text is visceral in its description Being a good historian Dr. Arsenault has obeyed the 50-year rule of historical research but just barely with this abridged edition. Covering the civil rights event known as the Freedom Rides he provides us with both a powerful story and the factual detail to support it. It is also has a companion film of the same name produced as part of PBS' American Experience. There is, of course, also available the unabridged version for the serious student of history.This text is visceral in its description of violence and depravity that was inflicted on the Freedom Riders and it speaks directly to the human drama and pure courage of the four hundred and thirty-six members who placed their very lives at risk for the concept of freedom and equality and the right of all Americans to participate within the rights granted under the US Constitution. It also illuminates the level of racism and hatred that infiltrated all levels of Southern society and the ongoing failure of the Federal government to enforce the promise of our Nation's principles.The professor places great importance on how the Freedom Riders reinvigorated the civil rights movements and made possible the future successes of the 60s. It is not a flattering portrayal of the Kennedy administration, the established civil rights' leaders or their organizations. It firmly concludes that it was the empowerment of Black and White youths that made the Freedom Rides a success and brought nonviolent protests to the forefront of the civil rights movement and moved it away from litigation as the sole path to equality.In a time of rising racism and White fear it is an important book for those of us too young to remember Jim Crow to learn the sacrifices that were made for all Americans.
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  • Lisa Ross
    June 3, 2011
    This highly impressive historical book starts in 1944 (11 years prior to Rosa Parks) when a woman named Irene Morgan, was arrested in Saluda, VA. for refusing to move from her bus seat for white passengers. This spawned the 'Journey of Reconciliation' ride of 1947 that consisted of 15 black & white male riders. This group was made up of members of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) a group that was highly influenced by the teachings of Ghandi, and believed that the theory of nonviolent react This highly impressive historical book starts in 1944 (11 years prior to Rosa Parks) when a woman named Irene Morgan, was arrested in Saluda, VA. for refusing to move from her bus seat for white passengers. This spawned the 'Journey of Reconciliation' ride of 1947 that consisted of 15 black & white male riders. This group was made up of members of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) a group that was highly influenced by the teachings of Ghandi, and believed that the theory of nonviolent reaction methods could be employed by African Americans to obtain civil rights in America. Soon after the Boynton vs. Virgina ruling (a December 1960 Supreme court ruling). The case overturned a judgment convicting an African American law student for trespassing by being in a restaurant in a bus terminal which was "whites only." The Freedom Rides were started by CORE as a way to test the ruling by traveling interstate bus routes. Starting in Washington DC and ending in Jackson, Miss. They encountered some minor hostility, but as they went deeper into the south the violence became horrendous. The entire history of the Rides is here, and a very detailed list of all the brave rides/riders that participated. I found the story to have a few very interesting parallels to the current struggle for gay rights today. The Kennedy administration was hesitant to react, and even send federal help when the violence loomed. On another level it is shameful that for over 500 pages this is simply a story of a group of people asking for the simplest of civil rights, and their struggle for just that. Fascinating look into this volatile time in American history.
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  • Manuel
    February 7, 2012
    In 1961 an integrated band of college students—many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university—decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation. No words can express my admiration for these young people for their courage In 1961 an integrated band of college students—many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university—decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation. No words can express my admiration for these young people for their courage to show their opposition against racial prjudice and segregation fom the local populace, the police, the Klux Klux Klan and even the state gov't in the deep south. They endured beatings, burnings, and constant humiliations without any protection fron the local law enforcements. These days we consider celebrities, even pseudo-celebrities and athletes as heroes. These young people both black and white were and are the REAL HEROES. It was a non-violent movement in a violent time and place in the United States, people fighting for equality to be treated like human beings. What we take for granted such as having the freedom of choice of seating in the bus or to be served in restaurants regardless of color, was denied these people before the Civil Rights Movement. This is how I define "courage", being fearless in the face of intense adversity, the very same experience that the people of Syria are now experiencing in the face of a totalitarian state.It is a marvelous book full details, interviews from participants and the media. A real time capsule.
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  • Brian
    February 4, 2012
    This book is another great addition to the Pivotal moments in American history series. This series seeks to assess the events that led to a major paradigm shift in American history changing the country in some way. The argument here is that the Freedom Rides established a basis for social justice that had not been achieved previously. With this topic the author does an excellent job of putting a human face on the struggle the riders went through and you can feel the palpable hatred that the ride This book is another great addition to the Pivotal moments in American history series. This series seeks to assess the events that led to a major paradigm shift in American history changing the country in some way. The argument here is that the Freedom Rides established a basis for social justice that had not been achieved previously. With this topic the author does an excellent job of putting a human face on the struggle the riders went through and you can feel the palpable hatred that the riders experienced and the racism is simply nauseating. It is unbelievable how clear the author captures it and not only for the hate towards the riders but the strict values that held this racism in place. What many people saw as right was the destruction of the freedom riders. The author does an excellent job at explaining the dichotomy in the country and showing how the Freedom Rides changed the perception of everyone towards social justice issues. For the first time white and black worked together not always seamlessly but with greater fervor than ever before. The direct action campaigns shifted focuses on what was happening the country creating new challenges. The book is extensively researched and relies not only on newspapers but countless interviews and the author should be commended for the work he put in. An excellent book to read and highly recommended.
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  • Eddie
    May 27, 2013
    Before those who Marched on Washington, there were the Freedom Riders of 1961. Before Rosa Parks of 1955, there was Irene Morgan of 1944. Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia was the Supreme Court case that started it all; it's ruling allowed for desegregated bus travel for interstate bus travelers. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) first attempted a `Journey of Reconciliation' in 1947 which tested the Supreme Court decision. The more robust Freedom Rides across the Deep South came later.Arse Before those who Marched on Washington, there were the Freedom Riders of 1961. Before Rosa Parks of 1955, there was Irene Morgan of 1944. Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia was the Supreme Court case that started it all; it's ruling allowed for desegregated bus travel for interstate bus travelers. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) first attempted a `Journey of Reconciliation' in 1947 which tested the Supreme Court decision. The more robust Freedom Rides across the Deep South came later.Arsenault does a superb job of covering end-to-end the transformative nature of the Freedom Rides; the first large-scale nonviolent direct action civil rights movement. The entire cast, the organizers, the Kennedy Administration and the staunch Southern segregationists are all on display here. As for the diverse band of individuals called the Freedom Riders "...the greater the hardship, the more committed they seemed to be", you will discover that their commitment and courage is unmatched on any level. Unbeknownst to them, their attempt in 1961 to speed up the slow gradualism of racial equality, became the blueprint for future nonviolent civil rights action.
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  • Emily Leader
    January 11, 2015
    Arsenault is a marvelous writer who righty earned the trust and cooperation of a wide array of Freedom Riders and his thorough, original research is evident throughout. He incorporates their voices beautifully while capturing the social, political and historical context of this two years of direct action, nonviolence, prison farms, criminal trials and violent, virulent resistance by the citizens and authorities in cities and towns of the deep south. I liked that Arsenault addresses the interrela Arsenault is a marvelous writer who righty earned the trust and cooperation of a wide array of Freedom Riders and his thorough, original research is evident throughout. He incorporates their voices beautifully while capturing the social, political and historical context of this two years of direct action, nonviolence, prison farms, criminal trials and violent, virulent resistance by the citizens and authorities in cities and towns of the deep south. I liked that Arsenault addresses the interrelationships of the various civil rights organizations operating at the time -- SNCC, CORE, the NAACP, SCLC and the range of philosophies and strategies that put them into conflict at times. The narrative consistently focuses on the story of the Freedom Riders and freedom rides, but does not disappoint when it comes to providing enough detail to understand the Kennedy administration's responses, the FBI's involvement, the governors, mayors, sheriffs and police chiefs whose actions shaped the ebb and flow of national attention. I chose to read the unabridged version, thinking I'd skim way more than I did. You will learn from this book and you will be engrossed by it.
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  • Billy
    February 8, 2009
    Reveals that the Freedom Rides of 1961 were not simply a stop on the way to Civil Rights legislation, but the middle point from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement until 1968, when MLK’s assassination marked a turning point for Black Power. In 1944, Irene Morgan took a bus from Virginia to Baltimore. This African American women refused to give up her seat, and appealed her case to the Supreme court, who as early as 1946 sustained the appeal. Of course, segregation continued throughout th Reveals that the Freedom Rides of 1961 were not simply a stop on the way to Civil Rights legislation, but the middle point from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement until 1968, when MLK’s assassination marked a turning point for Black Power. In 1944, Irene Morgan took a bus from Virginia to Baltimore. This African American women refused to give up her seat, and appealed her case to the Supreme court, who as early as 1946 sustained the appeal. Of course, segregation continued throughout the south, but the Supreme Court decision inspired the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). Worrying that gender mixing would complicate issues, they decided on a male only ride. In 1947, with the support of A.J. Muste, they traveled and bolstered support (only 12 arrests and one act of violence). This attempt provided the model for the later, better known freedom rides. The Kennedy brothers were annoyed by the Freedom rides, and recognized that it hurt their foreign policy. Racism at home did not help them exert influence during the Cold War, especially in African nations which they were courting (such as the Congo).
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  • John Kennedy
    July 7, 2011
    This is a well-told. comprehensive, gripping narrative of this largely ignored, important piece of U.S. history that served as a catalyst for sweeping civil rights changes in the 1960s. The book does a great job of showing the lonely struggles of those who showed the courage to stand up for their convictions against deep-seated prejudice and traditions in the South. Few institutions--political, media or religious--in the South or North were on their side back then. The text exposes the hypocrisy This is a well-told. comprehensive, gripping narrative of this largely ignored, important piece of U.S. history that served as a catalyst for sweeping civil rights changes in the 1960s. The book does a great job of showing the lonely struggles of those who showed the courage to stand up for their convictions against deep-seated prejudice and traditions in the South. Few institutions--political, media or religious--in the South or North were on their side back then. The text exposes the hypocrisy and complacency the nation had toward racial discrimination. In news reporting fashion, Arsenault describes the diverse group of riders who came together for a common cause, building drama along the way. I find it amazing that these people courageously risked their lives against injustice and hatred in my lifetime. The drawback to this book is there are no photos identifying the riders, there is no index and there are no footnotes.
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  • Jim
    February 16, 2013
    Although Arsenault edited his original 700-page scholarly work down to a mere 300 pages, the book is still a bit daunting. It does read more like a history text, or academic work, rather than an unfolding narrative. That being said, it is still very well written and is about an extremely important topic - important, little-known non-violent civil rights movement in 1961 - prior to some of the more publicized movements that would take place in 1963 and later. The activities of the Freedom Riders Although Arsenault edited his original 700-page scholarly work down to a mere 300 pages, the book is still a bit daunting. It does read more like a history text, or academic work, rather than an unfolding narrative. That being said, it is still very well written and is about an extremely important topic - important, little-known non-violent civil rights movement in 1961 - prior to some of the more publicized movements that would take place in 1963 and later. The activities of the Freedom Riders set the stage for much of the activity later in the decade, and probably even for some of the rights movements that would take place afterwards. Take the time to get through this dense book - it's worth it to get an understanding of what was going on at the time, and to see the sacrifice made by these Freedom Riders.
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  • Joan
    April 30, 2011
    I remember as a pre-teen that Andy Young, then a young Atlanta minister and civil rights organizer (and later the US rep to the UN under Jimmy Carter)came to visit our Congregational church in Minneapolis to tell us about and raise money to support the civil rights struggle in the South. That would have been 1961 or 62 just the time this Freedom Riders story takes place. What an extraordinary time in our history and what courage these fighters have. It's remarkably easy reading for an intense de I remember as a pre-teen that Andy Young, then a young Atlanta minister and civil rights organizer (and later the US rep to the UN under Jimmy Carter)came to visit our Congregational church in Minneapolis to tell us about and raise money to support the civil rights struggle in the South. That would have been 1961 or 62 just the time this Freedom Riders story takes place. What an extraordinary time in our history and what courage these fighters have. It's remarkably easy reading for an intense detailed history of the period. Come along for the ride.
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  • Ray Higgins
    January 29, 2017
    This book refreshed my memory of the events that lead up to and surrounded the Freedom Riders. The Freedom Riders were protesting segregated interstate travel, which the US Supreme Court had ruled was unconstitutional. In the Deep South, this along with many other human rights violations were typically never addressed or enforced due to local custom and the acceptance of Jim Crow era laws. US Congressman John Lewis was one of the Freedom Riders along with many others from different backgrounds w This book refreshed my memory of the events that lead up to and surrounded the Freedom Riders. The Freedom Riders were protesting segregated interstate travel, which the US Supreme Court had ruled was unconstitutional. In the Deep South, this along with many other human rights violations were typically never addressed or enforced due to local custom and the acceptance of Jim Crow era laws. US Congressman John Lewis was one of the Freedom Riders along with many others from different backgrounds who participated on these rides in the early 1960's.
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  • giselayvonne
    February 12, 2014
    Wow, this read was exceptionally well-written as well as dense! I have no ideas how the author managed to pack in all of the legal, social, and daily battles into one cohesive story - so complex! It read easily, though near the end, my brain was a little exhausted of legal talk. It was nonetheless, engaging and page-turning.An excellent summary of the Freedom Rides, very comprehensive. I am eager to watch the PBS American Experience accompanying video! Of note, there is an unabridged version whi Wow, this read was exceptionally well-written as well as dense! I have no ideas how the author managed to pack in all of the legal, social, and daily battles into one cohesive story - so complex! It read easily, though near the end, my brain was a little exhausted of legal talk. It was nonetheless, engaging and page-turning.An excellent summary of the Freedom Rides, very comprehensive. I am eager to watch the PBS American Experience accompanying video! Of note, there is an unabridged version which is 700-some pages. I wonder how the two differ?
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  • Samuel
    February 25, 2014
    When these events took place, I was still a naive white teenage racist in Ohio. This book brought back memories of events I didn't understand at the time. This is gripping writing that reflects the tension and interplay between between all sides (freedom riders, segregationists, government, courts) during a short period in the civil rights movement. When I started reading I didn't think the Freedom Riders were a pivotal event in American history. Arsenault has made me reconsider that assumption.
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  • Anne
    March 10, 2012
    Mistakenly, I checked the unabridged version of this book on Goodreads when I started reading it. I have finished the abridged version which I found quite comprehensive, compelling and disturbing. Mr. Arsenault did massive research to write the unabridged version and then the abridged. It is the companion edition to the American Experience film on PBS. It seems at times that we have not come very far in the 50 years since the Freedom Rides. It is well worth the read
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  • Barbara Poore
    May 5, 2012
    I did not read this edition, but the abridged. This book is an amazing account of the freedom riders--college students who braved jail, beatings, and indeed their lives in the summer of 1961 to desegregate interstate bus travel. Firmly renouncing violence in the spirit of Gandhi, they set the course of civil rights actions that followed. Interesting and unknown to me account of back room dealings by John and Robert Kennedy. Served as a basis for the PBS movie.
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  • Carol Silver
    February 8, 2014
    This book is gripping, because it interweaves current local and international news of the period with the actual events of the Freedom Rides, and personal accounts. The author indicates he spent almost ten years researching this book for an academic press, and it was worth it! This is the fundamental research text for the 1961 Freedom Rides, and was the basis for the PBS documentary which came out on the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides.
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  • Deanna
    January 15, 2013
    I highly recommend this book especially for my Alabama friends. We need to know the history of this state. This is a part of the Civil Rights movement I did not know about and did not learn about in school. If nothing else just read Chapter 4. I don't know if I would have been as brave as these 400+ students who risked their lives for change in 1961.
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  • Helen
    March 6, 2013
    This is a wonderful piece of history, helped along considerably by the fact that the author was able to interview the participants. You can't help but admire the bravery of those who risked their lives to open up public transportation. Ray Arsenault has done a great job with this scholarly work, which also has an abridged version, and which was made into a PBS documentary.
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  • Kim
    July 24, 2007
    It started out a little bit slow and it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all of the people involved, but it was very interesting and a detailed account of one of the important aspects of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Heather
    April 25, 2015
    I read it when I was quite a bit younger, so I don't remember much about it besides that I liked it, was thinking a lot about it after finishing it, and that I actually read it. It is this book that showed me that I like historical fiction.
  • Krazyangel
    September 6, 2011
    I really learned alot by reading this book. I learn things that I think I should have been taught in school. I hope others will enjoy this book in the way of learning how these people helped pave the way for us and for the furture people too.
  • David Bird
    January 12, 2017
    A very thorough and well-written piece. After fifty years, popular culture has created the common view that Civil Rights Movement=MLK. This book demonstrates that movement was made up of many.Sadly, its story seems ever more relevant.
  • Karen
    May 17, 2011
    This is a book everyone should read. An amazing account of the bravery of average american citizens fighting for equality of all.
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