Freedom Riders: 1961 And The Struggle For Racial Justice

Paperback | February 15, 2007

byRaymond Arsenault

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They were black and white, young and old, men and women. In the spring and summer of 1961, they put their lives on the line, riding buses through the American South to challenge segregation in interstate transport. Their story is one of the most celebrated episodes of the civil rightsmovement, yet a full-length history has never been written until now. In these pages, acclaimed historian Raymond Arsenault provides a gripping account of six pivotal months that jolted the consciousness of America. The Freedom Riders were greeted with hostility, fear, and violence. They were jailed and beaten, their buses stoned and firebombed. In Alabama, police stood idly by as racist thugs battered them. When Martin Luther King met the Riders in Montgomery, a raging mob besieged them in a church. Arsenaultrecreates these moments with heart-stopping immediacy. His tightly braided narrative reaches from the White House--where the Kennedys were just awakening to the moral power of the civil rights struggle--to the cells of Mississippi's infamous Parchman Prison, where Riders tormented their jailers withrousing freedom anthems. Along the way, he offers vivid portraits of dynamic figures such as James Farmer, Diane Nash, John Lewis, and Fred Shuttlesworth, recapturing the drama of an improbable, almost unbelievable saga of heroic sacrifice and unexpected triumph. The Riders were widely criticized as reckless provocateurs, or "outside agitators." But indelible images of their courage, broadcast to the world by a newly awakened press, galvanized the movement for racial justice across the nation. Freedom Riders is a stunning achievement, a masterpiece ofstorytelling that will stand alongside the finest works on the history of civil rights.

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They were black and white, young and old, men and women. In the spring and summer of 1961, they put their lives on the line, riding buses through the American South to challenge segregation in interstate transport. Their story is one of the most celebrated episodes of the civil rightsmovement, yet a full-length history has never been w...

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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Format:PaperbackDimensions:704 pages, 5.59 × 8.7 × 1.89 inPublished:February 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195327144

ISBN - 13:9780195327144

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Table of Contents

List of MapsEditors' NotePrefaceCh. 1: You Don't Have To Ride Jim CrowCh. 2: Beside the Weary RoadCh. 3: Hallelujah! I'm A-Travelin'Ch. 4: Alabama BoundCh. 5: Get on Board, Little ChildrenCh. 6: If You Miss Me From the Back of the BusCh. 7: Freedom's Coming and It Won't Be LongCh. 8: Make Me a Captive, LordCh. 9: Ain't Gonna Let No Jail House Turn Me `RoundCh. 10: Woke Up This Morning with My Mind on FreedomCh. 11: Oh, FreedomEpilogue: Glory BoundAppendix: Roster of Freedom RidersNotesBibliographyAcknowledgmentsIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Freedom Riders is a gripping narrative of one of the most important and underappreciated chapters in the Civil Rights movement. Raymond Arsenault shows how, in the summer of 1961, some four hundred and fifty courageous men and women took the struggle for racial justice in this country to anew level. Using hundreds of interviews and relentless research, Arsenault shows what the Freedom Riders faced on those buses, in those jailhouses, and in the midst of frenzied mobs. Freedom Riders reminds us of the moral power of direct action in the face of hostility and, sometimes worse,complacency."--Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.