Sunday, May 15, 2011

Curriculum Resource: Freedom RIders

Tomorrow starts a new series on PBS about the 1961 civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders.   The Freedom Riders were challenging the laws regarding segregated travel by having interracial couples sitting together on buses, as well as having black people ride in the front section of the bus, which was reserved for blacks.  Altogether, 436 Freedom Riders--75% of whom were male, 75% of whom were under 30, but even split between blacks and whites-- participated in 60 different rides within the South, despite the fact that they faced mob violence and arrest during their travels.  Their courageous stance not only awakened public awareness of civil right issues, but provoked the Kennedy administration to find a way to end the segregation of buses and trains and terminals involved in interstate travel.

There are several resources for using these programs with middle and high schoolers.  There is a study guide entitled Democracy in Action that has background information, discussion questions, and additional online resources for each of the shows.  There is a website from which you can download short clips from the entire show, along with some information and thought points.  There is also a blog where 40 college students spent 10 days in May tracing the Freedom Riders routes and recording their thoughts and perspectives comparing their ride to the ones the Freedom Riders faced in 1961.

So if you would like to turn these programs into an opportunity to have some fruitful discussion with your tween/teen children or students, check out these resources.

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