So Freedom Riders finally premiered on PBS last night. If you didn't get a chance to see it, I highly suggest it. The Candid interviews with former riders and bigoted Alabama governor John Patterson, shed a bright light on racial tensions in the 60s(plus a suprising piece of information about Dr. King's position). It's an interesting look at what it meant to be an American when many people barely considered you human. Kicked, beaten and bruised-they knew retaliation was beyond raising a fist and that America would not be changed by "violence breeding violence". With integrity and self respect, the riders knew it was their responsibility to keep riding and their right to dwell, eat and work with anyone regardless of race was inevitable. This responsibility was one that one white rider put, "some people don't take as serious."
I chatted about the documentary with an old friend at the cafe today. Elderly man with a beating heart of gold. He told me he was 21 at the time(1961) of the freedom rides. Tunnel vision, as he put it.. solidly focused on friendships, women, nothing more. He was 21 after all. He did remember waiting at a bus station when an older gentleman told a crew of young travelers that they were walking into a fire. The ride was a suicidal journey. They would likely be hurt and it would be more than they could handle. He said they nodded and said, "so let's go."