This evening I finally watched the PBS documentary on the famous Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement that I heard about on Oprah a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure if I can find a better way to sum up the film's impact on me other than by saying, "Wow." Historically, I've been a very timid person, shrinking from confrontation if I can help it, so whenever I see or hear stories of people standing up for themselves, for what they know is right - in spite of their fears - I can't help but be drawn to them. And impressed. And inspired.
A perfect example of this kind of courage was the group of mostly young people in 1961, both men and women, black and white, that decided to challenge segregation laws by riding Greyhound and other bus lines in to the south, non-violently defying the divisive customs, demanding equal treatment for everyone. They were beaten, bloodied, jailed - but new groups of riders sprang up to take their place and ultimately their collective efforts proved victorious. It's an amazing story and watching the documentary, seeing the people that lived it and seeing all the footage of the kinds of hatred and violence they were up against, makes their bravery all the more clear to me. And all the more moving. I thank God for these kinds of people in the world, in whatever the situation may be, the kind that help shake the world awake, who follow that Spirit, who bravely step in for the afraid and the blind.
Here's a preview of the already-released documentary and a clip from Oprah's show celebrating the Freedom Riders' 50th anniversary: