Read below for information about an exciting event for middle and high school students celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. National Geographic is supporting this initiative along with our partners in the Thinkfinity Consortium.
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.
On Wednesday, February 9, 2011 (less than a week from today!), middle and high school students across the country will join together electronically for a National Youth Summit on the Freedom Rides and activism. Freedom Rides veterans Congressman John Lewis, D-GA, Diane Nash, Jim Zwerg, and Reverend James Lawson will share how they became involved in the Freedom Rides and how their lives were affected by them. They will join filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders) and scholar Raymond Arsenault to discuss the meaning of the Freedom Rides and the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future.
Students will be encouraged to participate in the discussion through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Twitter, and the conference portal, and will be asked to think about themselves as makers of history.
Registration is free, and will include access to preparatory classroom materials, film clips, follow-up materials, and technical assistance. Register TODAY at http://smithsonianconference.org/freedomrides/
The discussion in Washington will be joined by five audiences at Smithsonian Affiliate museums around the nation as well as by registered viewers of the webcast. These Regional Town Halls will take place at:
• The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama
• The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
• Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
• Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, California
• Arab American Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
The National Youth Summit is presented by the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in collaboration with Smithsonian Affiliations and American Experience/WGBH.
Image courtesy National Museum of American History-Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution