Facing History and Ourselves, in partnership with PBS's flagship history series, American Experience, is pleased to offer the free study guide Democracy in Action to accompany the American Experience film Freedom Riders which aired on PBS May 16th, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.
Facing History will host workshops in eight U.S. cities throughout the 2011-2012 school year to assist teachers in planning creative lessons and units around the guide. A collection of video-based classroom resources is available from Teachers’ Domain, a free digital service from WGBH.
Freedom Riders tells the story of a courageous band of civil rights activists who challenged segregation, simply by traveling side by side on buses and trains through the Deep South in 1961. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, more than 400 black and white college students risked their lives—and many met with bitter racism, mob violence and imprisonment—sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.
Democracy in Action prompts students to consider the relationship between the political context in which the Rides took place and the stories and motivations of those students who became Freedom Riders. Students will analyze the complexities of the relationships between the Kennedy administration, the media, and the activists in the ultimately successful desegregation of buses and bus facilities.
Download the Study Guide
This free downloadable study guide supports educators and students in their use of the documentary, Freedom Riders. This film tells the powerful story of the Freedom Riders taking brave and decided actions to dismantle the structures of discrimination—specifically segregated interstate bus travel—through nonviolence.