PBS’s AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, America’s most-watched history series, today announced that 40 college students have been selected for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, an experiential learning opportunity for college students in conjunction with the broadcast of Freedom Riders and the 50th anniversary of the original May 1961 Freedom Rides. Over a ten-day journey from May 6 – 16, the Ride will be a moving classroom in which 40 college students from across the country will retrace the route of the original Freedom Rides. Accompanied by filmmaker Stanley Nelson, original Freedom Riders and others, the Ride will engage students in this important era in our country’s history, as they learn about the extraordinary commitment and courage of the individuals who took part in the Freedom Rides.

Kicking off in Washington, DC with two days of events at the Newseum that will gather many who were involved in the original Rides, the 2011 Student Freedom Ride will depart on Sunday, May 8 and roll through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and into Louisiana, stopping along the way at historically significant locations. The journey will end in New Orleans, the intended destination of the 1961 Freedom Riders.

Among the highlights of the trip will be events at Atlanta’s Morehouse College with original Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette, a ribbon cutting at the Anniston Bus Station, the town where one of the buses was firebombed in 1961, and a presentation at Vanderbilt University’s First Amendment Center by John Seigenthaler. Events will also take place at Montgomery’s historic First Baptist Church, where the original Freedom Riders, along with Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1500 others, were trapped by a mob until the Kennedy Administration summoned federal marshals, marking a turning point in the civil rights movement.

The Student Freedom Ride will end in New Orleans on May 16 with a public event and rally to welcome the students and the original Freedom Riders 50 years later.

The 2001 Student Freedom Riders from Georgia are:

JoyEllen Freeman - Class of 2013
School: University of Georgia (Athens, GA)
Major: English and English Education
Home Town: Milton, GA
About: JoyEllen Freeman is a sophomore at The University of Georgia who loves to explore the world through literature. Some of her favorite writers include Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Pat Conroy, and Langston Hughes. As an aspiring English teacher, JoyEllen enjoys mentoring and tutoring adolescent children in her community. In her spare time, JoyEllen likes to shop, listen to her iPod, read tear-inducing poems, and play Debussy on the piano.

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.

Kaitlyn Whiteside - Class of 2011
School: Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
Major: History and Sociology
Home Town: Ringgold, GA
About: Kaitlyn Whiteside grew up in Ringgold, GA before attending the Georgia Institute of Technology. While in college, she has worked at the Georgia State Capitol for Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, conducted independent undergraduate research, and served in the Executive Branch of the Student Government Association. She will begin law school this fall where she hopes to continue her work studying American legal history.

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.

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