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The Boondocks
Season 4, Episode 50
White
Air date May 19, 2014
Written by Rodney Barnes
Directed by Kwang Il Han
Production # 403
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Freedom Ride or Die is the fifth episode of the fourth season of The Boondocks.

Summary

Civil Rights pioneers: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X... Robert Freeman? A young reluctant Granddad is held as an unwilling freedom rider by Reverend Sturdy Harris, on a trip through the racist South. Despite his attempts to "turn the bus around" Granddad is led into dangerous territory.

Plot

The episode unfolds like a documentary with voice narratives retelling the story of that day. Characters like Julian Bond, John Lewis, Diane Nash and others help bring the story to life. Robert, of course, exaggerates his part knowing he was in fear the whole time. Julian says that Robert deemed himself a "civil rights legend" that didn't seem like an accurate depiction of Robert at all. Robert is seen at train station paying for a ticket to Chicago for a dollar. As he sits down on a bench next to a white man who immediately gets up, he reads the paper about "N-word Agitators On The Way To Birmingham." Before heading to the actual bus, Robert goes to the bathroom for 'colored people' represented by an actual picture of a monkey. The bathroom is unsanitary and unclean for use so Robert asks a white attendant to clean it up but when the attendant refuses, Robert decides to take a 'dump for freedom' by sneaking into the "Whites Only" bathroom yelling "Free at last!" with relief.

Robert finally gets on the bus with a group of people who he soon learns are the "Freedom Riders" all headed on the bus to Birmingham instead of Chicago. That's when he meets Diane Nash and Sturdy Harrison, who looks like a black chiseled warrior straight out a "Spartan 3000" movie. When Robert tries to get off, Sturdy says, "God led you on the bus." And for the remainder of the trip Nash and Harrison inform Robert about the cause. Along the way, the negro spiritual for the trip is "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" where the passengers breakout in unity to sing the song often. Robert's desire to get off the bus goes unanswered from the nonchalant white male bus driver who turns down a monetary bribe to stop the bus strictly for his departure. While Sturdy and Diane want to fight, Robert comes up with a plan under the guise of "non-violent direct action" which ends up being the theme during the protests physical battles. Surprisingly, the troupe agrees with Robert and adopts it as a part of their mission. Bull Connor is alive and well with non-other than Uncle Ruckus who is sporting a full head of black hair. Ruckus gives a speech to an all white attendance giving praise, as always, for his love for the "white man" and encourages the patrons to fight.

Once they arrive, Sturdy and Diane get off the bus first with the others while Robert, his fear and stubborn attitude keeps him on board. A battle begins between the Freedom Riders and the white townspeople which ends up like a straight up Jackie Chan movie. When a pelted beer bottle causes flames and smoke inside of the bus, Robert finally gets off of it. He then sees Diane getting ready to be attacked from behind and his signature belt comes to the rescue as the weapon of choice. His skills are hilariously exaggerated with Diane carrying the role of the 'damsel in distress' while Sturdy has an impenetrable body and stoic persona. Robert is basically on a 'kill mode' while Sturdy, funnily enough, is trying to stop him from harming the townspeople. Once the fight is interrupted by what seemed to be a local sheriff, they all get back on the bus. The driver then delivers them a letter with the N-word written on the front part of the envelope in which it reveals that if the bus is stopped, it wouldn't explode. Once the driver learns of this he gets off the bus explaining that "time and half" just isn't worth his service anymore. Robert uses this as the perfect time to escape the bus but Sturdy makes sure to catch him as he attempts to leave out of a broken window. The bus continues on to Mississippi with "Ain't Nobody Gone Turn Me Around" still as the anthem for support. President Kennedy sends a representative from the Justice Department to warn the "Freedom Riders" that if they proceed on to Mississippi, law enforcement can and will shoot them down. Robert begs to get off yet again, but Sturdy and his adamant attitude for the mission holds Robert by the shirt resistant and informs the rep that they will head on. The deal was to let the other passengers off which would leave Diane, Sturdy and Robert still en route to Mississippi. Bull Connor sets a plan in motion to stop the bus from crossing the state line and uses Ruckus to enforce his commands using the all-white team of guards who get in precision format who are ready to aim-and-fire.

The bus finally approaches and Robert gets to the ground as bullets enter the bus. Sturdy looks at Robert and says, "Be Strong! God will protect us." but Robert gives Sturdy the "Fool, are you crazy?" look. When a bullet hits the tire and brings it to a stop, the trio gets off and the rep from the Justice Department shows up again informing the officers that neither Sturdy, Diane or Robert were to be harmed however, that didn't matter. The officer claimed that they still had to abide by the law so they apprehended all three of the "Freedom Riders" and it ends with them singing "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" all in orange jumpsuits in jail.

Trivia

  • This is the only episode in which Huey and Riley do not appear.
  • Uncle Ruckus has imitated a scene of out of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock hit movie, "Speed" by placing a bomb underneath the bus.

Gallery

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