Freedom Riders debuts, Boston edition

Freedom Riders, the American Experience documentary on the 1961 freedom rides into the deep south, debuts tomorrow, Monday, May 16 on PBS. The mostly very young protesters made the original  trip to protest Jim Crow laws.

Here’s just a quick note to point you to a unique web feature of the documentary that’s being released amid much buzz (by public media standards) on this 50th anniversary.

WGBH in Boston – where American Experience is produced – has begun featuring profiles of Boston-area riders. Among them, Ellen Ziskind, a native of Lowell now in her 70s.

I just was kind of seized with… it was sort of like a moral crisis in a way, for a young person. And it was like, Oh my God, if I really believe in this stuff that I’m sort of in the office working on, and that I’ve believed in for kind of my whole life, I have to put my money where my mouth is.

And it was just one of those moments that is seamless. It’s kind of like a kaleidoscope, it just sort of clicks into place and there’s a decision there, and it’s clear. Unambivalent and clear. And so that’s how I came to go.

Another rider, Mike Wolfson was only 17. The Freedom Riders webpage says they’ll be posting extended coverage on the three listed participants — and hopefully some more of them?

Other web extra highlights include an interview with the documentary’s director, Stanley Nelson, and a forum for user-submitted stories and memories.

Will you be submitting a story? Or tuning in?

Photo: Ziskind’s mug shot, at age 20 – via Mississippi Sovereignty Commission online.

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