In 2006, 45 years later, Raymond Arsenault was the first historian to write a comprehensive book about the movement: Freedom Riders. Raymond says this is a story that needed to be told. "When I began work on the book about 13 years ago, I wasn't sure that anybody could do full justice to the Freedom Riders' story," Raymond says. "But I had to try. Just the dramatic power of what they accomplished back in 1961."

Read an excerpt from Freedom Riders 

"Everybody who dared to get on those buses is a hero and a heroine," Oprah says.

"That's really the story of the Freedom Rides to me," Raymond says.

Stanley Nelson is the filmmaker who wrote, directed and produced the documentary Freedom Riders, which premieres May 16, 2011, on PBS. "The Freedom Riders were a group of young people that set out at great personal risk to make a change, and they did it," Stanley says. "There were forces all lined up against them, but they didn't let anything stop them."

Go backstage with Stanley Watch

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