Ronald Kidd - May 21, 2021

The Freedom Rides:
Digging Deeper

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, which took place in May 1961, and which I dramatized in my historical novel Night on Fire. The publisher, Albert Whitman & Co., sent out an email to commemorate the anniversary and remind readers about my book.
Click here to see the email.

This week, Albert Whitman has followed up with a blog post I wrote. In the post, titled “The Best Kind of Research,” I tell the story of my research for Night on Fire, including a trip to Alabama, a bell tower, and a remarkable gentleman named Benjamin E. Beasley.

The Best Kind of Research

I thought the book was finished. Then I met Benjamin E. Beasley.

This is a story about research—not the dusty, academic kind you might expect, but the kind that sparks imagination and brings a book to life.

The book was Night on Fire, my historical novel about the Freedom Riders, a courageous group of young people who, sixty years ago this month, set out by bus from Washington D.C. across the South to test a Supreme Court decision banning racial discrimination in interstate travel.

In working on the book, I had studied the time and place, had created fictional friends Billie Sims and Jarmaine Jones, and had woven a story around the brutal, real-life events of the first Freedom Ride. Then, as I always do, I set out to scout the locations where the story took place.

Read the complete post.

More about Night on Fire.

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