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Freedom Rides: Campaign for Equality

Dale Anderson

Non-Fiction (Series)

Ages 10 to 12

Compass Point Books, 2008, 0-7565-3333-3

  Today it is sometimes hard for us to imagine that there was ever a time in the United States when segregation was a firmly entrenched institution. Indeed thousands of people believed in it, supported it, and were willing to go to outrageous lengths to defend it. It was only because of the extraordinary courage of a relatively small group of people, that segregation was finally defeated.

  They took a stand in different ways. Some people boycotted city buses, refusing to set foot in a public bus as long as preferential seating for whites was allowed. Some participated in sit-ins at luncheon counters in stores. Others got on interstate Greyhound buses and risked life and limb as they traveled around the southern states.

  These people joined what came to be called Freedom Rides. They were protesting the segregation in buses and bus stations. As long as African-Americans were prevented from sitting where they chose in a long distance bus, and as long as they had to use separate facilities in the bus stations, there was a battle which had to be won.

  During the first waves of Freedom Rides in May of 1961 the buses carrying the Freedom Riders were attacked by white people who were opposed to integration. Passengers were beaten, kicked, and gravely wounded. Police officers stood by while the passengers were being attacked, and in some places the authorities even told the white attackers that they would be given an allotted time to do their worst before the police even showed up on the scene.

  During later rides the buses traveled with armed escorts but the passengers were still arrested when they got to their destination. With courage the riders kept on riding. They took the attacks and the arrests, never fighting back against those who wished them ill.

  This exceptional book not only describes what took place during the Freedom Rides but it also explains what took place before and after the rides. Readers are therefore able to set the events described in their historical context. They are able to see how important the rides were for the civil rights movement as a whole. The author is careful to show her readers that the Freedom Riders not only took on the white anti-integration mob, but they also took on the federal government. The Kennedy administration did not really want to tackle the enormously difficult issue of racism and they did their best to stay out of it.

  It is refreshing to get the whole story about this very important event in American history. Once again the “Snapshots in History” series gives readers a title while brings history to life and which gives the reader the complete picture.

Freedom Riders

 

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