Winner of the 2017 Anne B. and James B. McMillan Prize
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.
Click here for an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio.
Press & Praise
“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
"By undertaking his own journey of reconciliation, author B. J. Hollars brings fresh relevance to the history of the 1961 Freedom Rides. His compelling and creative melding of past with present reminds us that extraordinary actions by fiercely determined young people have—and still can—change the world. This inspiring tribute to citizens who transformed America during the turbulent times of the 1960s, brings a road into view that beckons us anew to travel the distance for freedom."
—Ann Bausum, author of Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement
“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
“Reads like a personal conversation with the people who changed the world. For documenting the responses, effects, and engagements of nonsoutherners and the Freedom Riders, this book is an eye-opener.” —Linda R. Beito, coauthor of Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power