Braun-Reinitz, Janet: Oral History

Mural artist Janet Braun-Reinitz participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. She speaks about her involvement in the New York CORE chapter and her decision to become a Freedom Rider. Her Freedom Ride began in St. Louis, Missouri, and continued through Little Rock, Arkansas; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Texarkana, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; Shreveport, Louisiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and New Orleans, Louisiana. The goal was to observe the circumstances at different stations and on the buses and to avoid getting arrested. Braun-Reinitz discusses the training and explains the instructions given to Freedom Riders regarding clothing, hairstyles, and accessories. She describes her emotional reaction to seeing her first “Whites Only” sign. She and others were arrested and sent to the Little Rock jail. She describes the conditions in the jail. Charged with and found guilty of breach of peace, Braun-Reinitz had the option to serve six months or leave the state within twenty-four hours. She was brought to the Ku Klux Klan headquarters, an experience she described as more terrifying than being at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The oral history was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link) on November 10, 2001.

Janet Braun-Reinitz from Winter Institute on Vimeo.


Her oral history may also be viewed here.

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Janet Braun Reintz           

Name of Interviewer: April Grayson & Amy C. Evans

Date: November 10, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS


Time                         Topics/Names/Events Discussed
0:00-2:00 New York; community muralist; family background; Jewish immigrants
2:00-4:00 New York CORE; response to Anniston, AL bus bombing; Jim Peck
4:00-6:00 St. Louis; Little Rock; Pine Bluff, AR; Texarkana, TX; Beaumont, TX; Shreveport; Baton Rouge; New Orleans; training in St. Louis
6:00-8:00 Ben Cox; “whites only” signs
8:00-10:00 Little Rock; arrested in Little Rock and taken to city jail
10:00-12:00 Conditions in Little Rock Jail
12:00-14:00 Time in Little Rock Jail
14:00-16:00 Charged with breach of peace; leaving Little Rock
16:00-18:00 Arkansas State Troopers; FBI; Pine Bluff; Texarkana
18:00-20:00 FBI; Shreveport; KKK headquarters; World Trade Center/ Sept. 11, 2001; Dave Dennis
20:00-22:00 Shreveport
22:00-24:00 Risks taken by those who lived in Shreveport; Baton Rogue; New Orleans
24:00-26:00 Returning home after involvement
26:00-28:00 Returning home after involvement; New York CORE Executive Secretary
28:00-30:00 England
30:00-32:00 Rochester, NY; Rochester CORE; Malcolm X; police brutality
32:00-34:00 Protested Dialo case in New York City; arrest and experience protesting
34:00-36:00 Legacy of movement; younger generation desires tangible victories like those of the civil rights movement
36:00-38:00 Legacy of involvement; experiencing September 11, 2001
38:00-40:00 Political activism
40:00-42:00 Mural movement; Nicaragua 
42:00-44:00 Political art; influence of involvement on her life