top of page

The youngest and only surviving member of the Freedom Riders shares his story.

In this episode of Book Dreams, Julie and Eve talk with Charles Person, the youngest and only surviving member of the original Freedom Riders. In May of 1961, thirteen men and women in Washington, D.C. boarded two public buses headed for New Orleans, to test whether states across the South were abiding by the Supreme Court’s recent decision forbidding segregation in bus depots, waiting areas, restaurants, and restrooms. Charles was only eighteen at the time. Now, six decades later, he recounts the day his fight for racial equity and justice nearly cost him and his fellow Riders their lives.

The author of the recently released Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider, Charles tells Eve and Julie how his early experiences with systemic racism led him to become active in the civil rights movement and get on board the bus. Charles also gives vivid and vital oral testimony about the murderous attacks on the Freedom Riders by Klansmen and other white supremacists in Alabama. Those Freedom Riders included some of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement: Congressman John Lewis, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Director James Farmer, CORE Field Secretary Genevieve Hughes, Reverend Benjamin Elting Cox, and writer and pacifist James Peck.

Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider

"Person’s searing, revelatory, and often-inspiring memoir provides a clear, vivid, and eloquent account of the first segment of the pivotal 1961 Freedom Rides."

New York Journal of Books

Go Deeper

Charles Person

Richard Rooker

Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider, by Charles Person with Richard Rooker

Freedom Riders

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Congressman John Lewis

CORE Director James Farmer

CORE Field Secretary Genevieve Hughes

Reverend Benjamin Elting Cox

James Peck

Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth

Janie Forsyth

Watts Riots (Watts Rebellion)

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast


Lit Hub Radio

bottom of page