Raymond Arsenault's Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice covers a shorter, more specific time frame. The Freedom Riders were a courageous, racially integrated group of volunteers who traveled together on buses from Washington, D.C., to the heart of Dixie. They openly defied segregation laws and bore the brunt of vicious attacks, including firebombings and physical assaults that occurred in full view of the police. The sheer brutality that was presented on the front pages of major metropolitan newspapers shocked the Kennedy administration into finally protecting the Freedom Riders. Arsenault's book goes into exacting detail about rides, destination points and vicious acts of retribution during the pivotal year of 1961. It outlines a story of supreme courage against unspeakable cruelty and disgusting bigotry, and presents the Freedom Riders as one group that probably hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves for its crucial role in the civil rights movement.
Ron Wynn writes for the Nashville City Paper and other publications.