The filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s documentary “Freedom Riders” will not be shown onuntil May 16, but the promotional campaign has already started.
“American Experience,” the PBS series that commissioned the film, will announce Thursday the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, which will retrace the 1961 civil rights bus rides that are the subject of the film. During the protests, some 430 black and white men and women, mostly students, traveled to the South to challenge segregation, meeting the violence they encountered with their own nonviolent tactics, and eventually spurring the Kennedy administration to action.
A Web site, pbs.org/freedomriders, started this week, soliciting applications from college students for 40 expenses-paid seats on the trip, May 6 to 16, which will begin with a public event in Washington and travel through seven Southern states. The trip will overlap with a reunion of original Freedom Riders noting the 50th anniversary of their ride.
Mark Samels, executive producer of “American Experience,” said the bus tour is intended to spur “cross-generational dialogue” about the role of civic engagement and the forms it takes in theand era.
Original Freedom Riders will be on the bus, and other participants will join at stops, including the Montgomery, Ala., church that a mob threatened to burn down with the Freedom Riders and the Rev. Dr.inside. Students will be chosen partly based on their social media and civic engagement involvement, said Lauren Prestileo, the trip’s project manager.
This sounds like a great opportunity for a U.Va. student, and if any U.Va. students end up being selected, I would love to have them blog in this site from their trip.
(Incidentally, this ties in nicely with the Center for Politics’ Golden Anniversary Series that looks back on the significant political events of the 1960s. (Not coincidentally, they’re screening “Freedom Riders” Nov. 5 during the Virginia Film Festival). It also is similar to U.Va. history professor Julian Bond’s “Civil Rights South” tours (there’s one coming up in March), in which he leads groups to sites that had significance during the Civil Rights Movement.
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