50th Anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides

Play RecordingCORE Freedom Ride ButtonThis winter the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowment for the Humanities are offering a unique opportunity for students across the nation to learn from actual history makers about a fascinating and important chapter in the story of the Civil Rights Movement and the history of the nation. The National Youth Summit on the Freedom Rides on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (EST) will allow students to discuss history with the people who were witnesses and activists on the front lines of the fight for justice. They will also engage in conversation with scholars, public historians, and most importantly, one another in this incredible webcast that joins live audiences in six cities around the nation.

From May until November 1961, more than 400 diverse and committed Americans rode south together on buses and trains, putting their bodies and freedom on the line to challenge the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial injustice and inequality in public transportation. The Freedom Rides changed the Civil Rights Movement and demonstrated the power of individual action to change the nation.


The National Youth Summit allows students to talk with and learn from four legendary Freedom Riders:

Play Recording

The National Youth Summit will be moderated by Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. The panel will also include award winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, director of the new documentary film Freedom Riders.