University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries

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Come on Aboard: “Freedom Riders” of the Created Equal Series

The Wisconsin Historical Society will host the third film in a four-part documentary series, Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, in Madison on Tuesday, March 25. Selected segments of Freedom Riders will air at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Society’s headquarters at 816 State Street. Admission is free.

freedom-ridersFreedom Riders tells the tale of a diverse group of volunteers — black and white, young and old, male and female, secular and religious, Northern and Southern — who took the civil rights struggle out of the courtroom and onto the streets of the Jim Crow South, encountering violence and hostility along the way.  Professor Edward Schmitt of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside will moderate a post-screening discussion with audience members.

The Emmy Award-winning film documents the experiences of the volunteers who rode a bus into the Deep South, risking assaults and arrest as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks. It includes previously unseen amateur 8-mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped.

Through the Created Equal film series, the Society will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer and the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act. The final film in the series, Slavery by Another Name, will air on Tuesday, April 22.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Bridging Cultures initiative have generously underwritten the Created Equal film series.

Due to their length, only segments of the films will air during the evening sessions, but the Society will make the films available in their entirety in the Society’s Library Reading Room. They may also be viewed online.

You can read more about the series here.

For more information on the “Created Equal” film series or the Society’s civil rights collections, contact Rick Pifer weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 608-264-6477 or Gayle Martinson 608-264-6535 Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m.

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