Ronald Kidd - February 4, 2022
Freedom Riders in My Neighborhood

During Black History Month, we learn about the Freedom Riders, a brave group of young people who in 1961 rode buses into the deep South to challenge segregation. We read accounts of why they went and what they encountered in little towns such as Anniston, Alabama.

But what about the people, Black and white, who lived in those towns and saw those events? What did they feel? How did they respond?

My novel Night on Fire is the story of thirteen-year-old Billie Sims and her friend Jarmaine Jones, who live in Anniston, witness violent acts and a burning bus, and embark on a freedom ride of their own, through Birmingham and Montgomery into the teeth of an angry mob.

“Kidd writes with insight and restraint, creating a richly layered opus that hits every note to perfection....Beautifully written and earnestly delivered, the novel rolls to an inexorable, stunning conclusion that readers won’t soon forget.”  (Kirkus Reviews, starred)


One day in the spring of 1961, my street was the center of the world.

People read about it in newspapers and watched it on TV. They heard about it on NBC, the BBC, and Radio Moscow. The President held meetings. The FBI investigated.

What they saw were Negroes and white people together—traveling, marching, getting beaten up and burned. It started in my little town of Anniston, Alabama, and it moved to Birmingham and Selma and Washington, DC. I watched the flames catch and spread to Montgomery, where they were fanned and blessed by Martin Luther King. The people sang, the mob roared, and I glimpsed freedom.

I thought freedom was just a word, but it’s not. My friend Jarmaine taught me that. Freedom is hands and feet, bodies and faces, wounds and scars. It’s a bell, and I rang it. It’s a bus, and I climbed on. Along the way, I thought I would get answers. Instead I found questions.

Why do people hate each other?

If a law is bad, should you break it?

How can good people be so cruel?

More about Night on Fire

Now Available

  • Lord of the Mountain
    The “big bang” of country music in 1927 at Bristol, Tennessee.
    Read more
  • Room of Shadows
    Edgar Allan Poe returns and gets the glorious death he deserved.
    Read more
Learn about my books, plays, and music at
Download a sampler of chapters from some of my latest books.

Copyright © 2022 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp