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Exhibit Celebrates 1961 Freedom Riders

 
©Corbis

© Corbis

The UWM Libraries are hosting a national traveling exhibition, "Freedom Riders," which focuses on an important chapter in the nation's struggle for civil rights: the effort by more than 400 Americans to challenge segregated travel in the South during a six-month period in 1961.

This free exhibition--running from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21, 2011 in the UWM Golda Meir Library's Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons--is a companion to the May 2011 MPTV/PBS broadcast of the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film Freedom Riders, directed by Stanley Nelson.

Several events have been planned in conjunction with the exhibit:

  • "Riding the Freedom Road: Are We There Yet?," a panel discussion on national and local civil rights efforts from the 1960s to the present will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 3:00 p.m. in the Library's fourth floor Conference Center. The moderator, Robert Smith, Associate Professor, UWM Dept. of History, will be joined by panelists Tyrone Dumas, MPS Community Engagement Project Coordinator; Patricia Parker, Outreach Specialist, UWM Dept. of Social Work; and Judge Russell W. Stamper, Sr., Milwaukee County Circuit Court. The discussion is sponsored by the Friends of the UWM Golda Meir Library.

After the panel discussion, at 4:30 p.m., there will be a formal opening of the exhibit in the Learning Commons. Both events are free and open to the public.

  • A free screening of the film and a talkback with the film's producer, Mark Samels, will be offered at the UWM Union Theatre on Monday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. The screening is co-sponsored by local PBS affiliate MPTV, UWM Union Sociocultural Programming, and the UWM Dept. of History. For more information, call MPTV Friends at (414) 297-8004.

  • Also on view in the Learning Commons from Jan. 24 to Feb. 27 will be an exhibit drawn from materials that are included in the UWM Libraries new digital collection March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project.

The Freedom Riders, prompted by Supreme Court decisions mandating the desegregation of interstate travel, traveled in small interracial groups to the Deep South where integration was forbidden by local law and custom.

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 cellphone that allows visitors to hear eyewitness accounts of the Riders who endured racism and violence.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, in partnership with AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, created the exhibition. Funding was provided through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Milwaukee sponsors of the exhibit are UWM Libraries, UWM Department of History, and MPTV Friends.

To promote the film and the exhibit, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is offering college students a chance to be part of 2011 Student Freedom Ride, in which the selected students will retrace the steps of the Freedom Riders, with all expenses paid. Applications are due January 17, 2011.

The UWM Golda Meir Library is located at 2311 E. Hartford Ave. For Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons hours, visit www4.uwm.edu/libraries/hours/. For more information about the exhibit, call 414-229-4786.