What Happens When Young People Take Action? A Webinar on Freedom Riders

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 10, 2014

The young people who took part in Freedom Summer and the Freedom Rides took brave and decided actions to dismantle the structures of discrimination through nonviolence.

On Monday, April 7th, in collaboration with Educator Innovator, Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age, and Oakland USD, we had the privilege of speaking with activist Chude Allen, historian Kathy Emery, and Facing History educators to explore this powerful history, and innovative ways to teach it.

  • Kathy Emery (who has written the book, Lessons from Freedom Summer, Ordinary People Building Extraordinary Movements) set the stage for us by sharing the historical context for this time period and helping us understand the range of ways individuals got involved.
  • Chude Allen shared her own experiences and path to activism, beginning with women's rights issues and including teaching in the Freedom Schools. While she and other activists who came South to get involved were often collectively called "Freedom Riders," not all of them rode the buses.
  • We watched an excerpt from the film, Freedom Riders. You can watch the entire thing on PBS' website by clicking here. There is an excerpt at about the 49 minute mark which shows the incredible Diane Nash and the significance of the decision of Fisk University students to continue the rides despite the violence inflicted.
  • And, we all talked about the importance and impact of teaching this history to young people.


Near the end of the webinar, Chude read a powerful poem she wrote, "TO BE TWENTY AGAIN" which includes...

To be twenty again,
believing change is possible
because I have changed,
believing barriers can be lifted,
distrust transcended
because I have known friendship
across the color line, deep friendship.

It is inspiring to hear her read it! You can read the entire poem by clicking here.

Throughout the live webinar, we shared links of resources which can be helpful in teaching this history, and responded to questions. You can see the transcript from the chat on the Educator Innovator website by clicking here, and we've posted the resource links below. You can still ask us questions if you have any while watching - please post them below so we can get back to you!

Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Teaching Strategy

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