Freedom riders : 1961 and the struggle for racial justice / Raymond Arsenault.

By: Arsenault, RaymondMaterial type: TextTextSeries: Pivotal moments in American history: Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006Description: xii, 690 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cmISBN: 0195136748 (alk. paper); 9780195136746 (alk. paper); 9780195327144; 0195327144Subject(s): African American civil rights workers -- History -- 20th century | Civil rights workers -- United States -- History -- 20th century | African Americans -- Segregation -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century | Segregation in transportation -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century | African Americans -- Civil rights -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century | Civil rights movements -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century | Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th centuryDDC classification: 323/.0975/09046 LOC classification: E185.61 | .A69 2006Other classification: 15.85
Contents:
You don't have to ride Jim Crow -- Beside the weary road -- Hallelujah! I'm a-travelin' -- Alabama bound -- Get on board, little children -- If you miss me from the back of the bus -- Freedom's coming and it won't be long -- Make me a captive, Lord -- Ain't gonna let no jail house turn me 'round -- Woke up this morning with my mind on freedom -- Oh, freedom -- Epilogue : glory bound -- Appendix : roster of freedom riders.
Summary: 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 rights movement, 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. 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.Summary: 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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Includes bibliographical references (p. [653]-679) and index.

You don't have to ride Jim Crow -- Beside the weary road -- Hallelujah! I'm a-travelin' -- Alabama bound -- Get on board, little children -- If you miss me from the back of the bus -- Freedom's coming and it won't be long -- Make me a captive, Lord -- Ain't gonna let no jail house turn me 'round -- Woke up this morning with my mind on freedom -- Oh, freedom -- Epilogue : glory bound -- Appendix : roster of freedom riders.

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 rights movement, 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. 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.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Arsenault (history, Univ. of South Florida; Jacksonville: The Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars) deftly weaves an intricate narrative of the 1961 Freedom Rides, the civil rights effort by black and white volunteers to enforce the integration of interstate buses and travel facilities throughout the Deep South. Narrating the origins, the violent and turbulent rides themselves, the litigation, and the legacy, this work is similar, in its skillful crafting, to James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom on the Civil War. Arsenault recounts the dynamics of the civil rights organizations that eventually banded together to sustain the Freedom Rides, as well as the individual riders who suffered mob beatings and prison sentences. The interplay of the riders with municipal and state leaders, as well as with the Kennedys and the FBI at the federal level, is skillfully portrayed. The 500 pages are justified when one considers the near inexhaustible courage of the freedom riders and the significance of the national crisis they forced. For a more concise, thesis-driven history of the Freedom Rides, consider David Niven's The Politics of Injustice: The Kennedys, the Freedom Rides, and the Electoral Consequences of a Moral Compromise. Freedom Riders will find avid readership among patrons of academic collections.-Jim Hahn, Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

Drawing on a mountain of sources, Arsenault (Univ. of South Florida) has written a top-notch study of the freedom rides. His description of this dramatic protest for racial equality, which the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) initiated in May 1961, is extremely well researched and reads like a labor of love. In addition to exploring a vast array of new aspects of the rides, Arsenault argues that they played a much larger role in the modern struggle for civil rights than most studies of the era suggest. Most broadly, Arsenault asserts that the freedom rides "expanded the realm of the possible in American political and social insurgency" and redefined the limits of "individual and collective action." In 1998, after Bill Clinton presented CORE director James Farmer with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Farmer remarked that he worried that "people would forget" him and his work. Arsenault's study makes sure that the courageous actions of Farmer and the 436 men and women who defied the southern way of life and stood up for their rights as Americans by daring to ride through the South in a desegregated manner will not be forgotten. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. P. B. Levy York College of Pennsylvania

Author notes provided by Syndetics

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, civilrights, and regional culture.

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