Breach of Peace (Freedom Riders site launch)

In the spring and summer of 1961, several hundred brave Americans—the Freedom Riders—entered Southern bus and train stations to challenge their segregated waiting rooms, lunch counters, and bathrooms.

Breach of Peace is a new book, and website, that honors their courage and attempts to tell their story—a “photo-history told in images old and new.”

Author Eric Etheridge traveled America meeting, interviewing, and photographing surviving Freedom Riders, usually in their homes. The initial result of his three years of work and research is a compelling book of portraits and stories, now available for pre-order. (I’ve read the galleys.)

A tremendous amount of material did not fit into the book. The website will document those additional facts and stories.

Presently, during its soft launch, the site is limited to a blog, but already the blog is compelling. Read Barnett to Kunstler: What If Your Daughter Married One? and you’ll see what I mean.

Although it documents some of the vilest aspects of American racism, the website is primarily a tribute to the courage of several hundred Americans, black and white, male and female, who defied the prejudice of their time, risking their freedom and lives to advance the cause of justice.

12 thoughts on “Breach of Peace (Freedom Riders site launch)

  1. The Kunstler piece reminded me that all of us live with racism
    everyday. Everyday we need freedom riders. When I look at children I ask myself how we can instruct by example to be
    tolerant and except people for who they are. At the office
    exists a big poster in Helvecta. It reads “We are color blind”

  2. Speaking as a 30-something white guy living in western Canada, I don’t think it’s easy to appreciate the risks taken and the sacrifices made by those involved in the civil rights movement. We just don’t have too many black people here compared to the US, and most are recent immigrants or first-generation Canadians. Of course we know about MLK, and that there were (are) some “good old boys” causing problems for blacks. But I just learned about the “freedom riders” and other civil rights pioneers last year watching PBS’ American Experience and was amazed by their stories. More shocking is that all this happened only 45 years ago!

  3. What a great website. I hope you don’t find this upsetting, but I find myself a much bigger fan of your site when the posts aren’t related to web design and development. It’s no fault of yours, of course; I just don’t like the goons that show up with the Holy Book of Standards trying to tell you what a heretic you are.

  4. Don Ulrich- You are so right! I love the sign. I am 60 yr old “white woman”. Never considered my self prejudiced in any way (even marched a little). When my middle daughter had the most beuatiful bi-racial daughter, I realized I had not been color blind. Color in fact was most often the first thing I noticed about a person. Not that I thought that person less than me just that I noticed.

    If asked, ” Which girl was it? I would have replied the black girl. After my grandaughter I say “You know that one with the great smile, sits in the third cubicle” or “You know that snotty girl in the fourth cubicle.’ In other words skin color means no more than hair or eye color it just is what it is.

  5. Reading Michael’s response — specifically “More shocking is that all this happened only 45 years ago!” — strikes a chord with me. Sure, things have come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the United States.

    Living in the South, I’ve come across my share of “good old boys” in the corporate environment — and I’ve witnessed the real, modern day slavery of a Rwandan genocide survivor in the North.

    I keep telling myself that people will become more accepting over time, and I long for the day when I can look back on it all and think “Wow, people were so narrow-minded and barbaric back then.”

    Hats off to this website for bringing such a difficult topic out of the shadows.

  6. Great read and the new Breach of Peace site can only get better. Although not from the USA your story reminded me very much about the state of South Africa in the late sixties when I visited it with a black Fijian friend of mine. Myself coming from a country (England) that didn’t have these problems in the sixties I can’t tell you how horrified I was the way my friend was treated.

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