In the summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders, a group of mostly young people, both black and white, risked their lives to challenge the system of segregation in interstate travel in the South. The purpose of the rides was "to test the Supreme Court's ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional" (CORE, 2006). In 2001, participants gathered in Jackson, MS to commemorate the fortieth-anniversary of the freedom rides. Of those that attended, forty-two participants were interviewed; those recordings are available in this collection.
In the spring of 2009, the University of Mississippi Libraries' Archives and Special Collections Department in conjunction with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the University of Mississippi Media & Documentary Productions digitized interviews given by those involved in the freedom rides of 1961.
University departments involved with the original production of the oral histories include: the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, and Media Productions. Individuals involved in the taping, interviewing, and overall success of the freedom riders 40th-anniversary oral history project include: Prof. David Wharton, Joe York, Amy C. Evans, Tiffany Hamlin, Evan Hatch, Susan Glisson, April Grayson, Mary Beth Lasseter, Warren Ables, and Mary Hartwell Howorth.
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