BLOG: Get on the bus, watch this movie

Tom Jackson
Sep 15, 2011

The other day, my wife and I saw one of the best documentaries ever, "American Experience: Freedom Riders."

Ann and I had planned to watch the movie as a serial, taking in part of it one night and then finishing it the next night. We were so riveted we wound up watching it all the way through.

Although I do know a little bit about the civil rights struggle in America in the 1950 and 1960s, I admit that I did not know that much about the Freedom Riders — groups of black and whites who rode together on buses through the South in an attempt to integrate the interstate bus system.

Many of them were beaten and quite a few almost burned to death when a bus was set on fire in Alabama. They finally won when the Kennedy administration, prodded by all of the bad publicity, persuaded the Interstate Commerce Commission to integrate the bus lines.

The movie is a testament to the power of courage, and the power of ideas. It also offers insight into the political process. It's fascinating to see Robert Kennedy, President Kennedy's attorney general, referring to the riders as "so-called Freedom Riders" and telling them to stop their protests.

The movie has more narrative drive than most documentaries I've seen -- I had to keep watching to see how it came out. There's also an exciting Alabama vs. Mississippi competition, as the two states compete for the coveted "Worst State in the South" title.

Many of the reporters who tried to cover the events also faced beatings. Herb Kaplow, one of the network news people featured in the documentary, is the grandfather of Sara Kaplow, a web developer at this Web site.

"American Experience: Freedom Riders" is available as a free online movie, streamed to your computer. DVDs are available by reserving a copy at local CLEVNET libraries, such as Sandusky, Huron and Bellevue.

 

Comments

Raoul Duke

If I were a teacher, grading you on this "essay," I would ask you, "How did it make you feel?" "Specifially, what did you learn from this documentary?"  "How do you feel that watching this documentary has changed your life?"

Convince me that I should watch it. You've given me little more than I would expect to get for the TV guide. Come on, Tom. You do this for a living. Sink your teeth into it!

Kimo

 

Go back to sleep Duke, don't pester Tom...................

 

Raoul Duke

Tom can handle it, he's a college graduate. I think...

KURTje

Wisdom always trumps knowledge.

Centauri

@ Tom Jackson   thanks for the link. I put it into my favorites and will watch it later.

Kimo
  In 1962 my wife and I decided to go to Florida using the back roads. We rolled into a small town in Georgia and saw a small local Mom and Pop restaurant.   When we got to the door; I opened the door for my wife, and glanced behind me to see a teenage colored lady, so I stepped aside holding the door open so she could go in. She just stood there and didn’t try to go in. This went on for what seemed a long time, more than likely less than a minute. I finally went in and tried to close the door so it didn’t appear that I was being impolite to her.   When the waitress came over to take our order I told her about the young colored lady.   I was not prepared for her reply, “Down here we slam the door in a (n word) face”.   In those days restrooms were marked, “Colored” and “White” down south.   In a gin mill it was common practice to toss a glass used by a “colored” into the trash so a “white” did not have to use it.   Here we are 50 years later……………..  
Raoul Duke

I had a similar experience 25 years later in Mississippi. Anyway, that's what I want from Tom! Tell me a story!