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Freedom Riders

About the Ride

The 2011 Student Freedom Ride is an experiential learning opportunity for college students in conjunction with the PBS broadcast of "Freedom Riders" and the 50th anniversary of the original Freedom Rides. Over a ten-day journey, the Ride will be a moving classroom in which 40 college students from across the country will retrace the route of the original 1961 Freedom Rides. Designed to inform, inspire and engage students in this important era in our country’s history, the Student Freedom Ride will also serve as a means of launching anational conversation about the role of civic participation in a thriving democracy. Further, the 2011 StudentFreedom Ride will explore what issues inspire students to “get on the bus” today, and look at what forms that civic engagement is taking on campuses and in communities across the country.

Kicking off in Washington, DC with events at the Newseum, students will travel through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, stopping along the way athistorically important locations. Events are planned with surviving Freedom Riders, academic leaders,historians and others who will engage the students around the history and issues of the time and how they are applicable to today.

What is the purpose and the goals of the Ride? What does the project hope will be accomplished when theRide is over? The purpose of the Student Freedom Ride is to retrace the courageous journey of the original Freedom Riders in 1961. Not only will this provide an educational opportunity for the 40 students, but the Ride will function as acatalyst for a national conversation on civic participation, and how citizens, particularly youth, can becomeinvolved in the civic life of their communities. The bus will be stopping in cities and towns along the route,where public events will bring together the community at large for screenings and panel discussions.

In addition, there will be ways for every American to participate virtually in the Ride. The Freedom Riders web site will allow anyone to follow the Ride through daily blog posts, multiple Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other Social Media.

It is hoped that the Student Freedom Ride will inspire cross-generational dialogue about the role of civicparticipation and the forms it takes in the Facebook and Twitter era. Through exploring the actions that the Freedom Riders took 50 years ago, young people — and all Americans — will hopefully be inspired to see that our nation’s heroes are often ordinary people who stand up for what they believe in with courage and perseverance.