Friday, September 2, 2011

The Freedom Riders (2011)

Only 5 people completed watching Stanley Morgan's The Freedom Riders. That is unacceptable. Please tell bosses, family, friends, etc., that you are paying to enroll in a class from 5:00-7:45 on Thursday nights, and that (amazingly) your instructor requires your attendance at said class.

Group 2: By Tuesday morning, post a 3-400 word response on Berkeley in the Sixties, directed by Mark Kitchell.

Group 1: By Thursday at noon, post a 200 wordish response to something or things discussed by Group 1.

Remember to email responses to me if you are unable to post.


  1. From Shana K:

    Berkeley in the Sixities was an amazing documentary. It gave viewers like me the opprotunity to see the Civil Rights movement as more than just about African American rights. The students of the University of California on the Berkeley campus went through a lot just to stand up for what they believed in. They felt that the administration of the University treated them poorly and they believed that they had little to no rights. What I would like to focus on is their strength towards the police brutality that they frequently faced. To be honest, the police of this decade were pigs. They were disrespectful and violent. Every single time that the students at Berkeley tried to have a peaceful protest and get together, the police got themselves involved with violence. Both young men and women were given warning before being tossed out of schools and other public places like rag dolls. Literally. Because of this many injuries and even some deaths took place. The inspirational part of it is that despite the violence and pain that they knew was sure to come, the students still stood strong and stood up for what they believed in. I know that today many people would run or back down at the first sign of any violence. We could all learn something from this generation. We need to know that what we believe in defines us as a human being and our own person. This documentary does a wonderful job of doing just that. So thank you Mark Kitchell for giving us great insight into such an inspirational era and group of individuals.

  2. From Danielle B:

    Stanley Morgan's documentary "The Freedom Riders" features a group of civil rights activists called the Freedom Riders. This was an integrated group of college students that took it upon themselves to challenge the racist views on segregation that many states violently enforced while the federal government(under the Kennedy administration) turned the other cheek. They unanimously decided to purchase tickets for a Greyhound bus and traveled together throughout the south, deliberately breaking the Jim Crow laws. According to , these were laws that legalized segregation and governed
    pretty much every aspect of life that involved interpersonal communication. These laws were meant to prevent racial interbreeding and kept African Americans from going to the same schools, parks, restaurants, and use separate entrances to places like hospitals and amusement parks. African Americans weren't even allowed to be buried in the same graveyard as whites. However, most relevant, blacks, along with other minority groups, weren't allowed to share a seat with a white passenger on a bus and usually the back of the bus was intended for African American use which gave the front of the bus to the whites. Just for this the 400 members of the "Freedom Riders" movement received harsh beatings, bitter racism, and imprisonment even though they were using nonviolent racism to achieve equality among races. Despite such brutal treatment and chastisement, this group of individuals help set change into effect. Due to their radically liberal actions for the conservative society of the time, the Jim Crow laws that didn't allow African Americans and other minorities to enter certain facilities were diminished. There were no more "whites only" or "no blacks" signs for the most part. One of the biggest differences between this movement and Woodstock and Berkley in the Sixties is that it happened in the early 1960's whereas the other two happened in the late 60's.
    It was also somewhat of a cross between the two because the members of the Freedom Riders pretty much stuck to nonviolence like that of Woodstock; however, it was more like the nonpeacful, threatening, harmful environment of Berkley.

  3. From Austin M:

    The trend so far in this Film Studies class for documentaries about the 60’s is that social change was happening everywhere. People were tired of being told what to do by “the man” and were “stickin” it to him by branching out and doing their own thing, protesting, or practicing civil disobedience. In the film Freedom Riders this trend is followed when several bus passengers, both white and black, knowingly venture deep into the south stopping in cities to test the racial boundaries there. What occurs to them is life changing for all of them, as their attempts fail and end in riots, bus burnings, etc. A theme that is becoming more noticeable in the documentaries we are viewing is the resiliency of these people. In Woodstock hippies came from all over to just gather together without a government controlling them. In Berkeley in the 60’s protestors had to be drug down stairs and would still keep protesting. In Freedom Riders the original riders are stopped on their journey by having their bus mobbed and set on fire and drivers refusing to continue their journey, riders followed in their footsteps but were met with riots in the city of Montgomery; along with drivers refusing to take them. Eventually the President himself took notice of their clear defiance and the turmoil it was causing and intervened sending in US Marshall's to the city of Montgomery, the riders then ventured into Mississippi but were immediately sent to jail. Riders that followed in their footsteps were placed in jail also; more and more riders kept coming until the jails were full of riders. Because of their resiliency the riders eventually accomplished their goal of no discrimination on interstate buses by making their protests so memorable that even the President of the United States took notice and intervened. The 60’s were a decade filled with change but this change would not be achieved without standing true to one’s cause.

  4. From Geri B:

    Stanley Morgan produced a documentary titled, Freedom Riders. In 1961 there was a group of civil activists known as the, "Freedom Riders" and were a part of the Civil Rights Movement. These riders had a simple, but daring plan to test the Supreme Court decision. Their plan was to put African and Caucasian Americans together in the busing system. Two different bus companies were used: Trailways and Greyhound. The riders intended to start in the upper north or south and continue going in to the deeper south.

    One of their main concerns was the, "southern way of life." That way of life included segregation and the southerners wanted nothing but to keep it that way. Segregation in the south included separate restrooms, waiting rooms, restaurants, etc. Majority of the white people of the time were blind to racism and afraid of change. In January of 1961, Kennedy began spreading freedom everywhere except for the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.
    Unfortunately, those states were part of their freedom ride that would end in New Orleans. CORE or the Congress of Racial Equality, thought some violence would occur, but weren't prepared for the violence that very well did occur in Mississippi. The end result of their trip in Mississippi led to imprisonment.
    Soon afterwards, they continued their travels toward Birmingham, Alabama. In Alabama, they were faced with two very difficult men. One of which, John Patterson, Governor of Alabama, and the other was Bull Conner who was the police commissioner. The Greyhound (first bus) didn't make it to Birmingham due to an attack in Anniston, Alabama. This bus had its tires slashed and had set it on fire. When the second bus reached Birmingham, it was attacked by eight Ku Klux Klan members. Those attacks were only the beginning of violence on the Freedom Riders who had a nonviolent approach. I knew some violence had occurred, but I had no idea of how intense it actually was.
    I remember when I was a little younger and was watching the film, Remember the Titans, there was a scene with parents striking against the desegregation on the school buses. I couldn't help but to think about that while watching this documentary. I didn't understand why it was such a big deal for all the children to ride together. I knew there was racism at the time, but I honestly had no clue of how much.

    Ultimately, Stanley Morgan did an outstanding job of bringing the violence in the 1960's back to life for all of us to see. Not only would he show pictures and clips, but he would interview the actual Freedom Riders and their thoughts of what was going on. He portrayed them as the hero's that they are and things today wouldn't be the same without them.

  5. Most people with knowledge of the subject realize that the 1960’s were the most important years of the desegregation movement in the United States but more specifically in the deep south. In the documentary Freedom Riders we are shown firsthand not only how prominent segregation was in the south, but also the lengths people went to too keep segregation alive there. From Dr. Martin Luther King and President Kennedy to the brave students and civilians involved, the freedom riders affected everyone involved in the desegregation movement with their heroic actions.
    There were tons of protests against segregation during this time period but the way the freedom riders went about it was more bold and recognized than most could have ever imagined. Their nonviolent approach to breaking these unlawful rules created a response heard by an entire nation. The Public transportation system had always been a controversial topic when it came to segregation starting with Rosa Parks bus boycotts, but the freedom riders use of mixed race and gender groups made their message seem much bigger. President Kennedy and his staff were not completely focused on desegregation in the south as much as they were concerned about the enemy across the ocean but the inhumane reactions by the people in Alabama and Mississippi to the freedom riders was a wakeup call to the problems at home.
    When the first wave of riders were greeted by over 200 angry Caucasians in Alabama I knew something bad was going to happen, but seeing the riders being beaten as they exited their burning bus really showed me the extent people in the south would go to too keep segregation around. After one of the presidents assistants was beaten the media took this protest to the national level with news headlines like “Inhumane” and pictures of whites and blacks being beaten by the angry racist southerners. This would ultimately result in the addition of the military and president into this crazy situation.
    After realizing what happened to the first wave of riders the fact that the second wave signed their last wills and testimonies before they left was extremely inspiring to me. When the riders finally got into Mississippi instead of being able to continue to New Orleans they got thrown in Parchment prison. This move evolved the ultimate objective of the protest and triggered the last push they needed to complete their goal. Watching the riders bring together people of different races, religions, and political views to fill up that prison was more than enough in m opinion to desegregate not only the bus stations but the entire United States.

  6. Amanda DeRossett (Group 2):

    "Freedom Riders" a documentary by Stanley Nelson, is a documentary film about civil right activists who called themselves CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) demanded the same rights as everyone else. The activists were not only black Americans, but white as well. In 1961, the freedom riders got on a greyhound bus heading towards the deep south. In the film, before it shows the freedom riders journey, it shows where there was segregation in certain communities. From bathrooms, to restaurants, to water fountains, everything was segregated. The film also shows clips of white individuals on buses singing and very happy. Most white individuals were very content with the segregation in the south. Before the freedom riders went on their bus journey to the deep south, they planned and had meetings about what exactly they were going to do. The plan was to sit where they wanted to on the bus and if there was any trouble or violence, the freedom riders could not respond in a negative or violent way. The freedom riders stopped in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. had a reception for the freedom riders. MLK didn't join them on the bus, but he did warn the freedom riders about Birmingham, Alabama, telling them that the citizens would be far from welcoming and that they will be very violent towards them. Before getting to Birmingham, the freedom riders headed into Anniston. The "Anniston Clan" tried to stop the bus from coming through the town in a very violent way, several people were injured. The film shows pictures of the town citizens burning the bus and beating the freedom riders with bats and bars. The sheriff eventually stopped the chaos. The film also shows clips and recordings of Bill Connor, complaining and very angry that the freedom riders were coming to Birmingham. The film shows members of the KKK waiting outside the bus station, along with many other individuals against the freedom riders. Around the time the freedom riders traveled through the deep south, there was a lot of violence and the majority of white individuals were completely against it. The film shows interviews with many of the freedom riders and other witnesses to the events that happened. At the end of the film, the second set of freedom riders went into Mississippi and then went into New Orleans and eventually went to prison. After all this chaos, finally the president did something about it. The film was really inspiring to me. The freedom riders and many others continued to try and pursue their dreams and hopes of an equal lifestyle in the United States.

  7. From Matthew P:

    The Stanley Nelson directed “Freedom Riders” of 2011 was a film that sought to grasp an iconic moment in the beginning of the civil rights movements in 1961. The mission of these bus rides through the south struck me as such a simple idea. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) decided to organize a schedule of bus segregated rides to tour from the North and progress deeper and deeper into the South. They were basically only planning to ride through these cities and observe the segregation laws as they passed through. But, what became of this simple idea was something much bigger. This got me thinking about other films we have watched that I can remember small ideas being blown into significant moments in history. Specifically, the Woodstock film comes to mind as a comparison. What they were attempting there was to just organize a peaceful music festival, and it turned into something that defined an entire generation.
    Another common thread with these films so far that I noted is how generational gaps are being exposed and seem to be one of the root causes of these movements beginning to take place. I can even remember in “Freedom Riders” the mention this “radical” idea, and it is. It is a radical gap of generational differences coming to a boiling point.
    There was another aspect that this film specifically used that I thought was interesting to see. It was the incorporation of newspaper headlines and actual article snapshots to fit as each day comes and goes during the freedom rides. This was very effective to be able to show what would be going on in a sort of “current event” perspective for the viewer if we were living during that time and this was happening. I thought that was a really effective aspect of this film as well.
    In closing, one of the quotes that I wrote down from this film was in reference to what the men and women who were about to go on these freedom rides were warned about facing. They could expect “jail, extreme violence, and death” but yet, it did not matter. They were only worried about getting their message across.

  8. From Andrew H:

    what a lot of people seem to be posting is how these nonviolent protests were an amazing way to get their point across without bringing themselves to the same level of their racist counter parts. and how that nonviolent way of protest made the media and the population in general realize how wrong this was. this was the brilliant way that all of the protesters in all three of the documentaries were able to get their point across. by showing that (in all three cases) they were only asking for change and not inciting violence (any violence brought on in any of these movies was direct result of the brutality of the opposing side). in the case of the freedom riders, you had to have respect for them because they were constantly being threatened, beat and verbally assaulted every where they went in the south, but they held true to their non violent coarse of action. I think it should be also stated that there were opposing views in how to handle these non violent protests. even Martin Luther King was not 100% behind these freedom riders and thought that it might do more harm than good.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Kenta Goto

    The Freedom Riders were a group of college students and leaders of various racial equality organizations, both blacks and whites, which tested the law of integration for public transportation. The law was instated, but Alabama especially didn’t follow it. The Freedom Riders rode buses into the cities to see if the townspeople accepted or declined the new law. They in turn ended up beating, pummeling, and chasing the riders out of town with the white mobs. The Freedom Riders violently fought the segregation of blacks and whites for public transportation systems, and their victory led to the integration of many other places and the making of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After watching the film and reading the reply form classmates, I thought the same way some of us did. The citizens in 60's in general had lot of strong fighting mind. I say that because they were lots of protest and violence. As Shana mentioned police officers were all pigs. They were all disrespectful and violent.
    My thoughts after this was without what happened in the 60's, the U.S. and the rest of the world could well be a drastically different place. Their will power and determination to follow through with the demonstration helped make the U.S. what it is today. Without the Freedom Rides, it may have been a lot longer before the government passed the law for integration. Also, the Deep South may have still been highly segregated today if it had not been for the rides in the 60's

  11. From Jessica W:

    In films shown thus far in class, I couldnt help that notice that every documentarian goes about making their stance on the topic of the film in a variety of crafty ways. I feel that the writer of this particular film shown last week, "Freedom Riders" shows his view on the obvious racial injustice of the era in some especially creative manners. It is no secret that racism and ignorance go hand in hand together the vast majority of the time. A scene that depicts this ideal, and also proves that sometimes ignorance can be bliss, comes early on in the showing. A clip is shown that portrays what travel on a Greyhound bus for white americans was like in the early 1960's. The Greyhound bus is full of only whites, who are singing about how fun taking a trip out on the open road can be. This clip is then interrupted periodically by other, more realistic clips which some of the actual Freedom Riders of the south are even interviewed. All of the interview clips share something in common; they all describe some sort of act of hatred done by white southerners in America before the time of the Freedom Rides. The seperation of races clouded young minds so much to the point that the south as a majority in the early 1960's was absoultely blind to the reality of racism. I feel the director put these two very different clips in a flashback manner was to not only show his particular stance on the issue, but to also show how very different the north and the south were at this time in our nation's history. In one particular interview clip, an elderly women shares a seemingly simplistic story about how her cold and weary father attempted to buy a cup of coffee in the back of a rest area on his way home on a Greyhound. He, being a man of color, was refused service and simply returned to the back of the bus. This to most I suppose seems like an everyday act of racism that occured on a fairly regular basis in those days, but the director, I believe included this because he wanted to portray the raw emotion of this woman. It had been literally decades since this act of hatred occurred, but here she was on film years later, holding back tears from her worn and wrinkled eyes. Then, flash. The film jumps back to merry little bus of whites still singing with their heads held high and their pride held higher; completely oblivious to how the chosen segreation of their world affected little black girls waiting at home for their fathers. I know that this blog is a little different in regards to how I blog, how I write, ect; but of the entirety of the film, that scene just kinda struck me. Although it may have been just an insignificant part of the film for some, I found the way the information was displayed rather compelling. hope ya like it (:

  12. It was an amazing documentary, and the authors have enlightens all of us by showing us how it was a reality and a nightmare to live life in these days. I mean “WHO” can realize the daily struggle and frustration that this people have to go through on a regular basis. I am embarrassed of certain behavior the human race on this earth have had at certain times in our history all over the world. I admire the determination of the people to fight for change and for a better “so called” democracy. When you know you are gone get hurt or maybe kill and that you still going into that bus to send a message of “freedom for all” across the south of the United States, it shows how deep the conviction in these people heart was. The sad part is that maybe we would still be leaving this way, if that first small group of freedom riders did not stand up for their rights. Many people would have given up after being beaten that way or when they tried to burn them alive in the bus by blocking the bus doors. It is fantastic that authors of that documentary remind us for some of us of just inform us of what had really happen in this country. I believe the police was acting wrong and many people had dark soul these days.