"Buses are a-comin'... Oh, yes!"

Thursday – 28 January 2010
Last night, SaraRules and I went to a screening of a movie at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie was Freedom Riders (1, 2), a documentary about the Freedom Rides – a group of people dedicated to the ideal of tearing down the barriers of segregation on interstate buses.

Photograph (c) Corbis, 1961

From the Sundance synopsis:

In 1961 segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students—many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university—decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.

The film was exceptionally well-done. Where many documentaries are cold and dry, just giving facts and names, Stanley Nelson, the film’s director, did an excellent job of presenting a piece of American history with equal portions of fact-finding and emotional resonance. At the film’s end, there was a brief Q&A session with Mr. Nelson, Laurens Grant (producer), Jim Zwerg, one of the Freedom Riders, and Raymond Arsenault, author of the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, upon which the movie was based. It was especially interesting and intriguing to listen to Mr. Zwerg discuss how he became involved in the non-violent civil rights movement and how it affected his life.

This was a superb film and I highly recommend it to everyone.  There are two screenings remaining – Today at noon at Sundance and tomorrow at 0900 in Park City – and I strongly urge that anyone/everyone with the means to do so go see this movie.

Stray Toasters

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