The Road South//Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders B. J. Hollars

About the Book
Revisits the inspiring and heroic stories of the Freedom Riders, through their own words.
In May 1961, despite multiple Supreme Court rulings, segregation remained alive and well within the
system of interstate travel. All across the American South, interstate buses as well as their travel facilities
were divided racially. This blatant disregard for law and morality spurred the Congress of Racial Equality to
send thirteen individuals—seven black, six white—on a harrowing bus trip throughout the South as a sign
of protest.

These original riders were met with disapproval, arrests and violence along the way, but that did not stop
the movement. That summer, more than four hundred Freedom Riders continued their journey—many of
them concluding their ride at Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm, where they endured further abuses
and indignities. As a result of the riders sacrifice, by November of 1961, the Interstate Commerce
Commission finally put an end to interstate commerce segregation, and in the process, elevated the riders
to become a source of inspiration for other civil rights campaigns such as voter registration rights and
school desegregation.

While much has been written on the Freedom Rides, far less has been published about the individual
riders. Join award-winning author B. J. Hollars as he sets out on his own journey to meet them, retracing
the historic route and learning the stories of as many surviving riders as he could. The Road South:
Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders offers an intimate look into the lives and legacies of the riders.
Throughout the book these civil rights veterans’ poignant, personal stories offer timely insights into
America’s racial past and hopeful future.
Weaving the past with the present, Hollars aims to demystify the legendary journey, while also confronting
more modern concerns related to race in America. The Road South is part memoir and part research-based
journalism. It transcends the traditional textbook version of this historical journey to highlight the fascinating
stories of the many riders—both black and white—who risked their lives to move the country forward.

Authors & Editors
B. J. Hollars is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is the author
of several books including Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America; Opening the
Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa; Flock
Together: A Love Affair With Extinct Birds; From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us about Life,
Death, and Being Human, among others.

Reviews
“At various points personal quest, memoir, travelogue, and oral history, B. J. Hollars’ The Road South is a
fine and important contribution to our understanding of the Freedom Riders, what motivated them, how their
participation in the movement shaped them, and how they shaped America.”
—Derek Charles Catsam, author of Freedom’s Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom
Rides
“From the opening interview with Jim Zwerg all the way to the end, I felt as if I were getting to know these
historical figures better than I had in the past, and I have interviewed several of them myself.”
—Frye Gaillard, author of Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America and
Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom

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