Freedom Riders, a documentary about a diverse group of volunteers who protested segregation by traveling through the South in the 1960s, will be shown at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Stella Boyle-Smith Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The event is free and open to the public.
“Freedom Riders,” which received an Emmy in 2012, is the last film to be shown in the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” film series sponsored by the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture.
Dr. John A. Kirk, Donaghey Distinguished Professor and chair of the UALR History Department, will lead a community discussion about the experiences and outcomes of the Freedom Rides and their impact in Arkansas.
Kirk will moderate a panel discussion with State Sen. Joyce Elliott and Dr. Allan Ward, professor emeritus of Speech Communication at UALR.
The documentary covers the activities of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the wake of the 1960 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Boynton v. Virginia, which ordered an end to segregated interstate bus terminals.
“The Freedom Riders documentary outlines the story of the Freedom Rides and the acts of heroism of those who participated in them, thus bringing about the end of segregation in bus terminals,” said Kirk.
CORE organized Freedom Rides to test the court-ordered desegregation of facilities in the South, and SNCC later continued the protest.
CORE was made up of a group of volunteers—black and white, young and old, male and female, secular and religious, northern and southern. Five of these volunteers ventured to Little Rock in the summer of 1961.
According to Kirk, the Freedom Rides led to the end of segregation in interstate bus terminals.
“Rides to test bus terminal facilities across the South were instigated by CORE in conjunction with other civil rights organizations that worked together in a Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee,” Kirk said.
The Interstate Commerce Commission ordered the end of segregation effective Nov. 1, 1961.
The Center for Arkansas History and Culture presents “Freedom Riders,” as part of its “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” film series, a nationwide initiative made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
CAHC launched the year long film series earlier this year during Black History Month. The center partnered with the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site to select a variety of locations for the screenings of the four documentaries featured in the series.
About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization that promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of American history. Programs include publications, teacher seminars, a national Affiliate School Program, traveling exhibitions, and online materials for teachers, students, and the general public.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.