Two public television shows tell “our story” in dramatic fashion
On Monday, PBS premiered the award winning documentary “Freedom Riders,” which told the story of the Freedom Riders, 400 Black and White college students who traveled together via bus and trains through the Deep South, deliberately violating Jim Crow laws and deep rooted racism.
This month of May marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of that historic civil rights effort that lasted until November of 1961.
The documentary masterfully tells the story of these courageous “soldiers of the movement” who risked their lives, endured savage beatings, and incarceration in the worse prison in the south to tear down the walls of “American apartheid.”
Their courage and perseverance should be remembered and commemorated for prosperity. More importantly, this documentary on one of the great watershed moments of American and Black American history should be required viewing for Black school students (and non-school students) who have little—if any—knowledge of whose shoulders they stand on and why they are able to traverse our nation’s highways and skies, stay in comfortable hotels and eat in restaurants free of threat or intimidation.
Before the PBS documentary aired, our local public television station premiered a special “Black Noveau” report on Milwaukee’s “Freedom Walkers” who fought American apartheid in the form of housing and educational segregation.
The special report highlighted the open housing marches across the Sixteenth Street viaduct where they encountered racial hostility and attacks that reminded one of the South and earned Milwaukee the nickname, “Selma of the North.”
Such special television events like these reminds us that Black history—both national and local—is not confined to the month of February. “Our story” is 365 days, 24 hours, seven days a week non-stop.
We urge you to seek out these specials and watch them the next time they air. Fortunately, public television airs programming for the whole month, allowing viewers to view it if they missed it the first time.
Take advantage of that fact and view these important, historic stories that must not be allowed to fade away in the recesses of our collective consciousness. Lest we forget…!