sassysage's Blog

Sage’s Rage: Fierce and Female

Posted on: May 15, 2011

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This past thursday I experienced an emotional roller coaster while watching a preview of the documentary film, Freedom Riders.  Organized by African American Women in Cinema, the event included a screening, Q & A with the producer, Laurens Grant, and delicious reception.

Freedom Riders follows hundreds of brave souls who traveled through the South in the Spring of 1961 to protest segregation practices on interstate buses.   The goal was to have an inter-racial group of people sit in ‘whites only’ areas of bus stations. It all seems so unimaginable given the ease with which we travel today.  However, none of it would be possible for African Americans without the freedom riders.

I learned so much listening to the producer talk about how challenging it was to get footage for the film because the rides were in the early part of the civil rights movement before we knew how impactful those events would be.  Therefore many US networks trashed interviews, photos and shots they had of the rides. She ended up traveling all over the world to places like Japan and France to get whatever images she could find.  She even petitioned the FBI for their film to help bring to life this amazing story. Now that’s fierce!

I had no idea the magnitude of hatred, pain, and trepidation the riders had to go through. I was also struck by the bravery of the women involved; many of whom held major leadership roles in the rider movement.  Women like, Diane Nash, who served as the head coordinator of the rides. Raised in in Chicago, Ms. Nash attended Howard University before transferring to  Fisk University in the fall of 1959. She was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was elected coordinator of the Nashville rides. Ms. Nash had to juggle all those bus itineraries making sure every person was on time and accounted for while dealing with bomb threats, pressure from the FBI and many naysayers.  And remember this was done without the comforts of cell phones, txt or skype to get the word out to her team. Double fierce!
As we now know after a long and tough fight, the freedom riders prevailed and for that all of America won! But what you may have missed is the personal and human part of both sides of the story which Freedom Riders captures so vividly. See what you never knew about this monumental moment in American history by watching Freedom Riders starting Monday May 16th 9est\8c on PBS.
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