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In 2011, American Experience Invited College Students from across the country to “Get on the Bus”

From May 6-16, 40 college students joined original Freedom Riders in retracing the 1961 Rides from Washington, DC to New Orleans, LA.

Accepted students participated at no cost to them. All transportation, hotel and food expenses were covered by American Experience.

Students participated in an intergenerational conversation about civic engagement.
What does it mean today? What has changed since 1961?
What inspires young people to “get on the bus”?

SHARE the journey. Through live blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, the students on the bus shared their experiences and, in a sense, brought others along on their journey.

The views expressed in these commentaries do not necessarily reflect those of PBS or WGBH.

13 responses to “About”

  1. Pat

    5th May, 11

    Thanks or taking this ride! History that changed our world!

  2. Joan Eisenstodt

    6th May, 11

    After meeting a few of you tonight and after seeing the documentary, I am grateful beyond words that you have made a commitment to social justice – are continuing that commitment – and will ride in the “steps” of people of true conviction. Thank you all.

  3. Karrie Layton

    9th May, 11

    Good Morning! I am a teacher in Fulton County, Georgia and my students are always so passionate about the Civil Rights Movement. I teach 5th grade and its amazing how much more they want to know. We are working on our final project which is when they choose a historical figure and become that person for a school wide presentation. All of my students want to choose different Freedom Riders. They are just so grateful and happy that they are where they are now because of the sacrafices of the amazing idividuals like the the riders. I teach at a school that is very diverse and has about 32 different countries represented in it student and staff population. My students are an amazing group and just love reading the blogs and want to know more.

    I just wanted to say thanks and thanks again for all you have done and continue to do to make our lives what they are today. I was also wondering if you will be at a particular place in Atlanta on Wednesday. I would love to meet the buses and cheer you on.

    Thanks so much for being out there and the way you continue to succeed.

  4. Laurie Murphy

    9th May, 11

    Congrats on being part of such a historic occasion. Those of us at the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action understand how important individual action and advocacy is and how it can affect many generations. If you wish to learn how you can help ensure quality public education for all, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or visit our website at www saveourschoolsmarch org — Hope to see each of you in Washington DC on July 30, 2011!

    Again, congrats! I look forward to the documentary.

  5. Dodah yirusha

    11th May, 11

    I would give up my job today to have a chance

    to be on that bus.

  6. Cynthia Clouser( Haleemah)

    15th May, 11

    I saw the kcts9 Sunday show about Michael Audain’s experience in The Accidental Activist. I was moved to tears on what these Freedom Riders did. Had I known or had the opportunity I would have joined them. However I am proud to say that I am here in this day and time to also be an Activist in every way I can. Because, unfortunately the “Ride” is not over, not just for African Americans, but other Ethnic cultures as well. Keep on fighting! This Day will come!

  7. Ed Edwards

    16th May, 11

    Wow–what a wonderful experienceI am sure you are making a difference even in today’s world..Congratulations and I lokk forward to the documentary

  8. Christina Omole

    17th May, 11

    The documentary that I watched last night brought me to tears! I am eternally appreciative for the courage that the Freedom Riders displayed in peacefully fighting for equal rights. It’s refreshing to learn more and more about history and realize that freedom and equal rights were things that were fought for. Thank you for your great contribution to the Movement and humankind!

  9. Mason

    17th May, 11

    This was amazing from start to finish. Thank you for putting this documentary together. I am encouraging my daughter’s history teacher to show this at school. It was also amazing to hear that our town-Boulder, CO-had a bus going down south as Freedom Riders.

  10. Joan Eisenstodt

    20th May, 11

    Am so curious about how the students will be followed to see how they use what they learned. Is there a “formal” way in which they will be tracked? I’ve asked them, via #pbsbus on Twitter, to keep writing. Thought they had a new hashtag (#40deep) but it appears taken.

    For many of us, “what next” is going to be as critical to the learning process and instituting change as the ride.


  11. On Sunday June 12, 2011, I lost a father and we lost one of the original Freedom Riders. Reverend Ben Elton Cox Sr. passed away in Jackson, TN. Born June 19, 1931, he was the 7th of 16 children. From Minister to Civil Rights Activist to father, you lived to see the first black president and have made an impression on your generation and every generation thereafter. You will be missed.


    Darnell Cox

  12. I couldn’t get some of one’s links to work. Like your rss link just sent me back to your home page.

  13. Your site doesn’t appear ideal on Chrome. I checked and it looks very good on Firefox and IE, but it does funny things on Chrome. Just thught you’d like to know.