1961 Freedom Riders Exhibit Coming to UWG

Monday, October 1, 2012

The University of West Georgia’s Ingram Library will host the national exhibit “Freedom Riders,” which highlights the period in 1961 when more than 400 courageous, interracial Americans risked their lives to challenge segregation in the South.

The exhibit, which originated as a companion to PBS’ AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary Freedom Riders, will be on display from October 16 through November 13. It is free and open to the public.

The exhibit combines powerful photography and news coverage of the 1961 Freedom Rides and examines the movement from many perspectives, including that of the Riders, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, and world opinion. To enhance the experience, visitors can use their cell phones to access first-hand audio accounts from the Freedom Riders.

© CorbisThe Freedom Riders had a simple but daring plan: to board buses in small interracial groups to test and challenge segregated facilities in the South. The Freedom Riders endured savage beatings, humiliation and imprisonment, but ultimately their brave actions and commitment to nonviolence changed America. The “Freedom Riders” exhibit explores this dramatically important chapter in civil rights history and explains how the selfless actions of the Freedom Riders laid the groundwork for some of the most important civil rights legislation in our nation’s history.

The Ingram Library is also sponsoring two free exhibit-related talks. Dr. Ray Arsenault, the preeminent historian of the Freedom Riders movement and author of “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” will speak in the Ingram Library on October 18, at 7:00 p.m. On October 25, at 11:00 a.m., UWG history professor Dr. Larry Rivers will speak in the Ingram Library on "The Civil Rights Struggle Before the Freedom Riders."

On the days of the exhibit talks, special public parking will be available in the Townsend Center gated lot, beginning one hour prior to the program. Parking on the UWG campus is unrestricted on Saturdays and Sundays (other than handicapped, reserved, yellow curb, and red curb spaces). Also, Back Campus Drive will be unavailable for parking due to heavy construction.

“Freedom Riders” is a traveling exhibition developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Major funding for the traveling exhibition provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Exclusive corporate funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is provided by Liberty Mutual. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional funding provided by Lynn Bay Dayton, Rodger & Dawn Nordblom, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers.