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Freedom Riders is a 2010 American historical documentary film, produced by Firelight Media for PBS American Experience. The film is based in part on the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by historian Raymond Arsenault.[1] Directed by Stanley Nelson, it marked the 50th anniversary of the first Freedom Ride in May 1961 and first aired on May 16, 2011.[2][3] It was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Freedom Riders
Film poster
Directed byStanley Nelson
Release date
  • February 2010 (2010-02) (Santa Barbara)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film chronicles the story behind hundreds of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders that challenged racial segregation in American interstate transportation during the Civil Rights Movement. The activist traveled together in small interracial groups and sat where ever they chose on buses and trains to compel equal access to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms. They brought the ongoing practice of racial segregation in the southern United States to national attention.

The film is currently used within Firelight Media’s national outreach campaign, to serve as an educational and advocacy tool by NGOs and non-profit partners in order to support young people who are mobilizing around contemporary social issues such as, immigrant rights, youth violence, and environmental issues.

The film was also featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show program titled, Freedom Riders: 50th Anniversary.[4]

Nelson was helped in the making of the documentary by Arsenault and Derek Catsam, an associate professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.[5]


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Arsenault, Raymond (2006). Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199755813.
  • Catsam, Derek Charles. Freedom's Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides, 2009 University Press of Kentucky.
  • Etheridge, Eric; McWhorter, Diane; Wilkins, Roger (2008). Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders. New York: Atlas & Company. ISBN 9780977743391.


External linksEdit