On May 4, 1961, thirteen Freedom Riders left Washington, DC on two buses with the intent of challenging segregation in bus stations and other travel facilities across the South, a campaign that ultimately resulted in a federal ruling to enforce desegregation of interstate travel. The action marked a turning point in the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement and was a foundational event in the lives of many activists.
Joan C. Browning, co-author of DEEP IN OUR HEARTS: NINE WHITE WOMEN IN THE FREEDOM MOVEMENT, along with many other surviving Freedom Riders, will be gathering in Chicago tomorrow for a reunion conference and a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show devoted to the Freedom Rides and scheduled to air on May 4, the anniversary date.
The film Freedom Riders, a production of American Experience, will premier on PBS on May 16; the show is sponsoring a 2011 reenactment Freedom Ride with students. (A UGA sophomore, JoyEllen Freeman, has been selected to join this ride.) Many other commemorations and events are scheduled nationwide.