Freedom Ride tells the story of Sylvie Davenport, a young student from New Orleans, as she is drawn into the Civil Rights Movement in the summer of 1961.
Activists, Clayton and Jerome are trying to recruit volunteers to join the Freedom Rides to Jackson, Mississippi, part of a massive and dangerous plan to desegregate interstate bus and train travel. They recruit several students, including Russell Davenport and his older sister Sylvie, who is initially hostile, but attracted to Clayton and determined to win his respect.
As the day for Sylvie’s ride to Jackson looms closer, her personal life starts to interfere with her plans: Clayton rejects her love, her mother Georgia disowns her, her college revokes her scholarship, and Russell backs out of his initial commitment. At a church rally the night before she is to leave, a bomb is tossed through the window, injuring many of the Freedom Riders, including Clayton and—fatally—Sylvie’s young friend Ruby.
At the train station the next day, uncertain, alone, and afraid, Sylvie hesitates, then slowly marches offstage toward the train.