Freedom Riders: True Rebels

"In 1961, the Freedom Riders, a dedicated group of men and women, black and white, young and old (many from university and college campuses) across the country boarded buses, trains and planes bound for the deep South to challenge that region‘s outdated Jim Crow laws and the non-compliance with a US Supreme Court decision already three years old that prohibited segregation in all interstate public transportation facilities."  from

This is a group of people worth celebrating.  A movement that, yet again, began with the youth.  Students who had won local successes in the 60s against segregated lunch counters and movie theatres decided to take their message further and challenge the segregation that continued in other parts of the United States, especially the deep South.  Many of these young people were not sure if they would ever return, they put their lives on the line.  Some wrote their last will and testament before leaving and they enjoyed a "Last Supper" together before they set off.

I am writing this blog, in part to suggest that you watch the PBS documentary film celebrating the Freedom Riders which just aired last night on PBS.  Watch it here.

Here's the trailer;

This is inspiration that anyone hoping to 'rebel' against oppression and injustice continues to need.  White and Black people together fighting for equality.  Trained, in part, by Martin Luther King Jr. in the principles of non-violence, this is the type of thing that we need to continue to be motivated by.  We need to add to the ranks of soldiers in the non-violent army battling oppression and injustice. And it is happening. 

A group of students are RIGHT NOW just ending a 2011 Freedom Ride in the United States.  Go to their blog and be inspired!!  Lot of really cool written and video blog entries. Check it out here

Here is one excerpt from a blog from Ryan Price, a current Freedom Rider, just written yesterday on the blog I linked above.

"Here’s the tension I feel though: the original Freedom Riders wouldn’t have behaved as perfectly as we do. As they traveled through these cities they would have asked things to the tune of: “We’re really happy that our brothers and sisters, black and white, can ride buses together now. But how do you treat migrant workers? Do the children in your high school still viciously bully their gay peers? Do the members of your community paint all peaceful Muslims with the wide, inaccurate and phobic brush of terrorist?”

There’s nothing revolutionary in 2011, thank God, about different races riding busses together. Just fifty years ago, it was revolutionary. Today though the notion of segregation seems laughable. The lesson we learn from the Freedom Rides isn’t that we reached racial justice in the 1960s. No, the lesson we learn as students is that for us to make positive social change, we shouldn’t constantly behave so prudishly, properly and politely (which our generation tends to do).

It would have been rude for me to ask a leader in Tennessee, “Well I’m glad you’ve generously made room for black citizens in the front of busses. What are you doing about the outlandishly high suicide rate among your LGBT youth though? And while you answer that, how does your state do on housing discrimination?” Yet those questions need asking. Speaking truth to power – that’s the best way we could renew the spirit of the Freedom Riders."

Tap into the spirit of Ryan Price's words.  In the face of any injustice, of any oppression, there is a desperate need for our youth to be more than 'seen', they must be 'heard'. Provoke our culture by disobeying the 'rules' that continue to allow people to be oppressed for all kinds of reasons. Ask the hard questions and become agitators! 

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