Tonight, I watched the powerful documentary Freedom Riders with my kids. (available on YouTube)<br><br>The film tells the story of the heroic students who organized and led the Freedom Rides protesting Jim Crow segregation throughout the South despite terrorism, violent mobs, beatings, jailings and bus burnings. The film reveals that it was the students – not MLK – that led that movement. Indeed, he declined to join the rides himself. I appreciate this film (produced by Stanley Nelson) because it centers the courage of the students who dropped out of school and risked their lives to stand for justice. On MLK Day, I think it’s worth remembering that MLK was as much a product of an extraordinary movement as he was a leader. The radicalism and courage of SNCC activists among others helped MLK evolve and grow into a man who was, at the time of his death in 1968, quite different than who he was in 1961 as the Freedom Rides began. This week I’ll be re-reading Vincent Harding’s book, The Inconvenient Hero, which reflects on the later years of King’s life – the years that are most relevant, I think, to the challenges we currently face. Harding does a beautiful job of refocusing our attention on the man, as he evolved, not the saccharine myth. Cornel West’s book, The Radical King, offers a collection of King’s later speeches and interviews as well, but I haven’t read that one yet.

Tonight, I watched the powerful documentary Freedom Riders with my kids. (available on YouTube)The film tells the story of the heroic students who organized and led the Freedom Rides protesting Jim Crow segregation throughout the South despite terror…