My Witness Listening Guide

Episode 5: “Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides Reveal the Power of Nonviolence

Interviewer: Clarkston Ellerby  (Hume Fogg High School)

Interviewee: Dr. Ernest Patton (Former Foot Soldier, Freedom Rider)


1.)  When Dr. Patton describes his first memory of experiencing racism, he talks about having to sit in the balcony of the movie theater. Describe what you think it must have felt like as a child to realize this injustice. Do you have similar memories from your childhood?



2.)  As mentioned in the interview, James Lawson moved to Nashville after his encounter with Dr. King. How do you think Lawson’s life would have been different if he had not made that decision? How do you think the Nashville Movement would have looked without Lawson leading the sit-in trainings?



3.)  As Dr. Patton explained, the Nashville Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides were highly organized with staggered groups and designated duties. Discuss the importance of strategy in protesting. How has strategizing changed over the years in various protests and movements?



4.)  Clarkston asked what the Freedom Riders did to keep their spirits up. If you were a Freedom Rider in Nashville during this time, what would be your main motivation when the protests became more dangerous?



5.)  Clarkston and Dr. Patton discuss his experience in jail and how they stayed busy with activities, discussion, and games. If you were in his shoes, how would you have stayed busy? Describe the challenges you would imagine feeling in this intense waiting period of jail time.



6.)  Dr. Patton emphasizes the importance of learning the local leaders involved in the Movement. Talk about the primary names and examples you learned about in school while covering the Civil Rights Movement. Can you name at least 5? 10? Why or why not?