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From May until December 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives many endured savage beatings and imprisonment for simply traveling together on buses as they journeyed through the Deep South. Determined to test and challenge segregated travel facilities, the Freedom Riders were greeted with mob violence and bitter racism, sorely testing their belief in non-violent activism. From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Freedom Riders features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters; the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand. Based on Raymond Arsenault s acclaimed book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, the two-hour documentary comes to PBS in May 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Rides.