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American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4

Part of Freedom Riders Interviews.


James Lawson was a Methodist minister; graduate student at Vanderbilt University on the Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi (Trailways) ride. May 24, 1961

License Clip
American Experience
Freedom Riders
Program Number



Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4

Series Description

As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award.

Program Description

In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students -- many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university --decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation. Veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson's documentary is the first feature-length film about this courageous band of civil-rights activists. Gaining access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Nelson, Stanley (Producer)
Lawson, James (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4,” 2010, GBH Archives, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4.” 2010. GBH Archives. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with James Lawson, 1 of 4. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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