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May 4, 2011

50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

Special thanks for this guest post to Allyson Nakamoto, Teacher Programs Manager at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California).

Panelists (L to R): Robert Singleton, Helen Singleton, Sybil Jordan Hampton (moderator), Tamio Wakayama

I often take for granted how easy it is to follow breaking news. To find out what happened during a raid on a compound in Pakistan, I can turn on a 24-hours news channel or click on a few links to get caught up.

Student with his artwork inspired by the Freedom Rides

But 50 years ago the medium of television was new.  And 50 years ago today, the first buses of Freedom Riders (and three reporters) left Washington, D.C. and headed South to test Boynton v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that had desegregated interstate travel. What followed changed the course of the United States history.

The Freedom Rides have been on our minds a lot this year.  On February 9, 2011 the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History organized a Web cast and National Youth Summit that brought together Freedom Riders in D.C. and engaged five Smithsonian Affiliates from across the nation to discuss the meaning of the Freedom Rides and the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future.

JANM was honored to have been selected as the West Coast venue for this program and streamed the Webcast to a live audience of students from LAUSD’s Civitas School of Leadership and Ribet Academy. Following the Webcast, Dr. Robert and Mrs. Helen Singleton, two Los Angeles-based Freedom Riders, and Mr. Tamio Wakayama, a Japanese Canadian member of SNCC, were on a panel moderated by Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton, a member of JANM’s Board of Trustees and herself an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement. We were star struck!!!

This has gotten us thinking about how the Freedom Rides impacted Japanese Americans, and especially how it may have emboldened those in the Redress Movement. What were the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei who watched these images broadcast on national television (just as that medium was becoming commonplace) thinking and feeling as they watched the buses burning, the cruel racism, and brave individuals standing up for what was right?

What would you have been thinking if you had been watching those Freedom Riders make their way South under the “protection” of Boynton v. Virginia?

P.S. To learn more about the Freedom Rides, tune into your PBS station on May 16 and also we highly recommend The Children by David Halberstam. Learn more about new generation of young people who are about to retrace the path of the Freedom Riders. And, maybe you can catch a glimpse of the Singletons when Oprah Winfrey reunites the Freedom Riders on May 4.

Photographer: Tracy Kumono

November 28, 2009

mark your calendars in 2010

calendar_icon-300x3003Just a few important dates Smithsonian Affiliations staff wants to make sure are on your calendars in 2010. Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss out on these great opportunities in the coming New Year!

Recommend an intern at your museum for the Affiliations Intern Partnership Program, deadline for summer 2010 is January 15, 2010. There’s no better way to help a student build their resume and get hands-on experience at the same time! Past students have worked on projects ranging from festival planning with the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to collections care at the National Postal Museum. Read one past intern’s story here. Email Elizabeth Bugbee, BugbeeE@si.edu, for more details.

Stop by and say hello if you’re in Los Angeles for the AAM conference May 23 – 26, 2010. Smithsonian Affiliations will be hosting a reception at the Japanese American National Museum May 25 from 6 – 8 p.m. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet up with Smithsonian colleagues, celebrate our L.A. Affiliates, and network with each other.

Further your professional development by applying for the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program, deadline for Fall 2010 is June 4, 2010. Looking to research collections for an upcoming exhibition at your museum? Need advice on exhibition design? Or do you want to know how to evaluate what visitors think of your museum? We have it all at the Smithsonian! With 19 museums, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo, there’s an expert at the Smithsonian waiting to collaborate with you. Email Elizabeth Bugbee, BugbeeE@si.edu, for more details.

Join your fellow Affiliate and Smithsonian colleagues at the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, June 13- 15, 2010. We’re tackling Grand Challenges together this year and want you to be part of it. As the Smithsonian implements its new Strategic Plan, be the first to see how you can take part. And, back by popular demand will be Funders Speed Dating. Keep checking your inbox for more conference updates!

 

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