Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

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Oxford University Press, Jan 15, 2006 - Law - 704 pages
13 Reviews
Here is the definitive account of a dramatic and indeed pivotal moment in American history, a critical episode that transformed the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. Raymond Arsenault offers a meticulously researched and grippingly written account of the Freedom Rides, one of the most compelling chapters in the history of civil rights. Arsenault recounts how in 1961, emboldened by federal rulings that declared segregated transit unconstitutional, a group of volunteers--blacks and whites--traveled together from Washington DC through the Deep South, defying Jim Crow laws in buses and terminals, putting their bodies and their lives on the line for racial justice. The book paints a harrowing account of the outpouring of hatred and violence that greeted the Freedom Riders in Alabama and Mississippi. One bus was disabled by Ku Klux Klansmen, then firebombed. In Birmingham and Montgomery, mobs of white supremacists swarmed the bus stations and battered the riders with fists and clubs while local police refused to intervene. The mayhem in Montgomery was captured by news photographers, shocking the nation, and sparking a crisis in the Kennedy administration, which after some hesitation and much public outcry, came to the aid of the Freedom Riders. Arsenault brings the key actors in this historical drama vividly to life, with colorful portraits of the Kennedys, Jim Farmer, John Lewis, Diane Nash, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Their courage, their fears, and the agonizing choices made by all these individuals run through the story like an electric current. The saga of the Freedom Rides is an improbable, almost unbelievable story. In the course of six months, some four hundred and fifty Riders expanded the realm of the possible in American politics, redefining the limits of dissent and setting the stage in the years to come for the 1963 Birmingham demonstrations, Freedom Summer and the Selma-to-Montgomery March. With characters and plot lines rivaling those of the most imaginative fiction, this is a tale of heroic sacrifice and unexpected triumph.
  

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Review: Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Pivotal Moments in American History (Pivotal Moments in American History)

User Review  - Jean - Goodreads

Very informative book about the civil rights struggle involving the Freedom Riders who tried to desegregate the bus lines that at the time were segregated. It was very disheartening to read how our ... Read full review

Review: Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Pivotal Moments in American History (Pivotal Moments in American History)

User Review  - Carol Silver - Goodreads

This book is gripping, because it interweaves current local and international news of the period with the actual events of the Freedom Rides, and personal accounts. The author indicates he spent ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 You Dont Have to Ride Jim Crow
11
2 Beside the Weary Road
56
3 Hallelujah Im aTravelin
93
4 Alabama Bound
140
5 Get on Board Little Children
177
6 If You Miss Me from the Back of the Bus
209
7 Freedoms Coming and It Wont Be Long
259
10 Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on Freedom
382
11 Oh Freedom
424
Glory Bound
477
Acknowledgments
527
Roster of Freedom Riders
533
Notes
588
Bibliography
653
Index
680

8 Make Me a Captive Lord
304
9 Aint Gonna Let No Jail House Turn Me Round
343

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About the author (2006)

Raymond Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and co-director of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. A graduate of Princeton and Brandeis, he is the author of two prize-winning books and numerous articles on race, civil rights, and regional culture.

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