Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Co-Sponsored Event: Created Equal? Freedom Riders

Created Equal? Freedom Riders: Roadblocks and Redemption on “Freedom’s Main Line”
Thursday, March 26, 2015, 67:30 p.m.
National Constitution Center,
525 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Admission Free

In 1961, U.S. Supreme Court decisions that overturned racial segregation in interstate travel were largely ignored in the South. To challenge this status quo, more than 400 black and white Americans, called Freedom Riders, performed a simple act: they traveled into the segregated South in small interracial groups and sat where they pleased on interstate buses.

The National Constitution Center invites you to a screening of Freedom Riders, exploring the terrifying, moving, and suspenseful story of these volunteers as they risked being jailed, beaten, or killed, as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks. The film includes previously unseen amateur 8mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped, taken by a local twelve-year-old and held as evidence since 1961 by the FBI.

Jeffrey Rosen, NCC’s President & CEO and a constitutional law scholar, will discuss the heroic acts of the Freedom Riders and the conflicts with the Kennedy administration. Guest speakers will join in the lively conversation about the 1961 Freedom Rides, and attendees will take a tour through the new Kennedy Exhibition. 


About Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the passage of 13th Amendment,, HSP has partnered with the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center, the Philadelphia History Museum, and the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia to host screenings of four documentaries featuring riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America.

The documentaries are part of Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, a powerful film set produced with NEH support. Each film tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.  These programs offer a series of lectures, discussion forums, and scholarly presentations in addition to the screenings.

The documentaries, The AbolitionistsSlavery by Another NameThe Loving Story, and Freedom Riders, include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. Freedom Riders received an Emmy in 2012, and The Loving Story and The Abolitionists have been nominated for Emmys in 2013. 


Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

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