A national traveling exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Freedom Riders” and screening of an upcoming film on the same topic is coming to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Libraries beginning this month. The exhibit and film focus on an important chapter in the nation’s struggle for civil rights: the effort by more than 400 Americans to challenge segregated travel laws in the South during a six-month period in 1961. This free exhibit – held from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21 in the Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons at 2311 E. Hartford Ave. – is a companion to the May PBS broadcast of the American Experience film “Freedom Riders,” directed by Stanley Nelson. A free screening and a talkback with the film’s producer, Mark Samels, will be held at the UWM Union Theater on Monday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. A formal opening of the exhibit follows a panel discussion on civil rights moderated by UWM history professor Robert Smith on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The discussion is held from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Library’s fourth floor Conference Center.
The Freedom Riders protested Supreme Court decisions mandating the desegregation of interstate travel, by boarding buses in small interracial groups and riding through the Deep South where integration was forbidden by local law. The exhibit presents a detailed narrative illustrated with archival photos and newspaper clippings that document this pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Viewing is enhanced by companion audio via cell phone that allows visitors to hear eyewitness accounts of the Riders, who endured racism and violence.
Also on view in the Learning Commons, will be an exhibit drawn from materials that are included in the UWM Libraries new digital collection “March On Milwaukee: Civil Rights History Project.” (Go to http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/digilib/march/index.cfm.) The Gildner Lehrman Institute of American History, in partnership with American Experience, created the exhibit. Funding was provided through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Milwaukee sponsors are UWM Libraries, the UWM Department of History, and Friends of Milwaukee Public Television.
For more information, go to http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/News/freedomriders.cfm.