Press Release


Freedom Riders series begins with screening and discussion with director and former Freedom Riders on Saturday, April 9.

CHICAGO – Join the Illinois Humanities Council and its partners in honoring some of the most important civil rights activists of the 20th century. From May to December 1961, over 400 mostly young Americans risked their lives and freedom to challenge the Jim Crow travel laws that remained in force throughout the South, despite rulings that had outlawed racial segregation in interstate travel. The Freedom Riders were committed to non-violent action, yet faced savage beatings, angry mobs, and imprisonment on their journeys.

The Freedom Riders series will kick off with the Chicago premiere of Freedom Riders, a documentary on these courageous activists inspired by the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. This event will take place on Saturday, April 9, 2011, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E 56th Place, Chicago). It is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For reservations, visit, or contact the IHC at 312.422.5580 or

The premiere will also feature a post-screening discussion. Freedom Riders director Stanley Nelson, Emmy Award-winner and 2002 MacArthur Fellow, will be on hand along with former Freedom Riders Genevieve Hughes Houghton, Thomas Armstrong and Dan Stevens. Adam Green, Ph.D., Professor of History at the University of Chicago, will serve as moderator.

Other Freedom Riders events include Traveling Down Freedom’s Main Line: The Freedom Rides at 50, three upcoming Chicago presentations in May focused on commissioned original performance pieces inspired by Freedom Riders.  Screenings and discussions of the film in Carbondale and East St. Louis, and a special screening for Chicago Public School students are also part of the Freedom Riders program.

Lead partner for Freedom Riders is PBS’s American Experience. The funders for the series are The Field Foundation of Illinois and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, with additional travel support provided by Southwest Airlines. Co-sponsors for the series are: WBEZ-Chicago, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Free Street Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Young Chicago Authors, Chicago Freedom School, Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, Woodson Regional Library, The Foundation for Homan Square, The African-American Museum of Southern Illinois, WSIU, Varsity Center for the Arts, and Freedom Trails Legacies of Hope. This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Views and opinions expressed by individual panelists, scholars, and artists in Freedom Riders do not necessarily state or reflect those of partner organizations in the series, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Illinois General Assembly.


The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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