Education Blog

A New Year with New Resources to Inspire Us All

Green highway sign that says Inspiration Ahead with cloudy sky above it.

With the New Year upon us, it can be enlightening to gain a new perspective from an inspirational person. PBS LearningMedia has a collection of interviews, newsreel footage, and archival photos to learn more about Mahatma Gandhi and the struggle for an independent India. His experiences inspired and influenced those engaged in the struggle to end racism and discrimination in America. The Freedom Riders: American Experience Collection is a collection of video segments that documents the events and accomplishments of the Freedom Rides, and introduces you to the real human stories of those who helped change our history.

If you are unfamiliar with Freedom Riders, it is the powerful and inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they traveled through the Deep South.  These Freedom Riders deliberately violated Jim Crow laws in order to test and challenge a segregated south. The Freedom Riders encountered bitter racism and mob violence that truly tested their belief in nonviolent activism.

Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and nonviolent practices served as inspiration for American civil rights leaders and their nonviolent activism. Gandhi declined an invitation from American civil rights leaders to become directly involved in the U.S. struggle for equal rights, but his encouragement persuaded them that the nonviolent approach also held great potential in a struggle for the rights of any minority against the majority.

For many, 2017 was a year filled with many emotions. While this collection of resources may not be appropriate for younger children, it is relevant to our middle school and high school students as they continue to be surrounded by violence and negativity in the media. It is important for them to understand how nonviolent teachings and practices are what ultimately achieved results in America during that time. The Freedom Riders collection shares Gandhi’s story, the story of students and leaders involved, and the perseverance they displayed during this struggle. I hope that their stories can serve as an inspiration for some of us in 2018.