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Next Stop: Equality

The Freedom Riders journey for equal treatment under law

Tali Champney Senior Division Individual Website

As soon as I began looking into my NHD topic, I knew that I wanted to choose something from the Civil Rights Movement. I have always been in awe of the courage that Civil Rights activists had in order to put their lives in danger to stand up for their rights as human beings, so it was a no brainer for me to choose this topic for a theme on rights and responsibilities. When it came down to choosing which part of the movement I wanted to focus on, I narrowed it down to the Freedom Riders because I felt that they best modeled the amount of strength it takes to stand up for your rights and make an impact on the world. I began my research simply: I used databases, mainly Gales Encyclopedia of US History, to look up the basics on the Freedom Riders. I began to read about their journey, the violence they faced, and how the government failed to protect both their rights and their lives countless times. I decided to go more into depth to see how the government failed to enforce the laws and the impact it had on African Americans, and how the Freedom Riders reacted to these issues. I got a book called The Freedom Rides by Ann Bausum that had many quotes from participants of the Freedom Rides, which led me to look up more primary sources online in the form of quotes, images, and video. I collected all of my sources on Noodle Tools, and used that site to write note cards from each individual source. Deciding on the presentation format (a website) was an easy choice for me. When researching, I found an endless source of photos, videos, and audio that would be invaluable in telling the Freedom Riders story; horrific photos of the abuse they faced, videos of former Freedom Riders recounting on the Rides, and Freedom songs that they sang. The alternative presentation formats would have prevented me from

using at least one of the three types of sources that I found, so I knew that a website was what I wanted to do from the very beginning. My project connects very closely to the NHD theme this year of rights and responsibilities. African Americans in the 1960s had the right to equal treatment in all aspects of life after the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal in 1954. The government, however, refused to do their part in protecting African American rights, even though protecting human rights is the US governments primary responsibility. In a non-violent protest, The Freedom Riders rode un-segregated buses into the South, provoking violence so extreme that was impossible for the government to ignore. The Freedom Riders forced the US government to meet their responsibilities and enforce the laws that protected African Americans right to equal treatment, travel, and, more importantly, quality of life.