Segments in this Video

Sit-In Movement (01:24)


In 1960, four black college students sat down at a Greensboro lunch counter and refused to leave—starting a wave of nonviolent protests. View archive footage of demonstrators.

Nashville Segregation (02:16)

View footage of Mayor Ben West. Despite a progressive reputation, the city was segregated in 1960. Resident Leo Lillard recalls separate drinking fountains.

Nonviolence Workshops (02:16)

Nashville's black colleges attracted young people from across the nation. Fisk student Diane Nash resented segregation; view footage of James Lawson training students in direct action tactics.

Nashville Sit-Ins (02:05)

John Lewis and Diane Nash recall sitting at whites only lunch counters. Locals believed they were outside agitators.

Segregation Confrontation (02:14)

View archive footage of gangs attacking Nashville students during a February 27 sit in. Police arrested 80 protestors for disorderly conduct.

Moral Challenge (02:23)

Sit-ins forced Nashville residents to confront segregation. Students were found guilty of disorderly conduct; most chose to serve jail time rather than pay fines.

Nashville Easter Boycott (02:18)

Black parents worried arrest records could hurt their children's future. Learn how they stopped supporting downtown businesses to pressure the mayor to desegregate.

National Boycott (01:44)

Sit-ins spread to 69 cities. Chain stores supporting segregation were picketed in the north. Lillard describes discouraging black Nashville residents from breaking the boycott.

Violence against Protestors (03:07)

Learn how residents participating in the Nashville boycott were attacked. Student defense lawyer Z. Looby's home was bombed, prompting the first major march.

Gaining Political Support (02:14)

View footage of Nash pushing West to take a personal stand at Nashville city hall. He agreed to desegregate lunch counters on moral grounds.

Forming SNCC (01:35)

In spring 1960, sit-in students attended an organizing conference in Raleigh under SCLC. Ella Baker urged them to remain independent.

Campaign Issue (02:27)

Martin Luther King's 1960 arrest at an Atlanta sit in enraged the black community. Learn how Kennedy helped get him out of jail—gaining him the African-American vote.

Freedom Ride (02:11)

Kennedy's commitment to Civil Rights was political. Learn about the Congress of Racial Equality's plan to pressure him to desegregate interstate travel.

Interracial Protest (04:20)

Lewis recalls beginning the Freedom Ride from Washington, D.C. Buses were attacked near Birmingham; participants received no police or FBI protection.

Negotiating Safe Passage (04:01)

Nashville SNCC students decided to continue the Freedom Ride. Robert Kennedy sent his assistant Seigenthaler to pressure Alabama Governor Patterson to ensure their protection.

Police Betrayal (06:38)

Lewis recalls traveling from Birmingham to Montgomery on the Freedom Ride. Police protection failed and they were attacked by a mob.

Federal Intervention (04:08)

Robert Kennedy sent U.S. Marshals to Montgomery. King led a rally at the First Baptist Church; mobs gathered outside. Patterson finally ordered state police to protect parishioners—a Civil Rights victory.

Military Protection (02:39)

After the First Baptist Church siege, Alabama guardsmen accompanied Freedom Riders from Montgomery to Jackson. Frederick Leonard recalls police in Jackson.

Freedom Rider Arrests (01:34)

Learn about Kennedy's negotiation with Mississippi police. Frederick Leonard recalls being arrested upon arrival in Jackson and describes the judge's bias.

SNCC Victory (03:12)

Freedom Riders continued traveling to Jackson in summer 1961. Kennedy desegregated interstate travel; students were experienced in nonviolent direct action.

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Ain’t Scared of Your Jails 1960–1961: Eyes on the Prize—America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954–1985

Part of the Series : Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954–1985
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Black college students take a leadership role in the civil rights movement as lunch counter sit-ins spread across the South. “Freedom Riders” also try to desegregate interstate buses, but they are brutally attacked as they travel.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL58634

Copyright date: ©1994

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.