Created Equal Film Series

posterArkansas Tech University, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is hosting a film series entitled Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. Two films have already been shown—Slavery by Another Name and The Loving Story-–but community members still have an opportunity to catch the final two films before the series ends on April 22nd. (You can view the previous two films online. See below for details). The films in this series, say ATU officials, “tell remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.” The film series seeks to do more than simply shine light on historic events but rather to “bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life.”

The film series is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The next film, The Loving Story, will be shown on Thursday April 10th beginning at 7:00 pm at the Ross Pendergraft Library. Directed by Nancy Buirski, this 2013 Emmy award winning production tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving an interracial couple who were arrested Virginia in 1959 after violating the state’s ban on interracial marriage. The landmark Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia overturned anti-miscegenation laws for the entire nation, making it illegal for state officials to challenge interracial marriage.

FreedomRidersPBS_600The final film, Freedom Riders, will be shown Thursday April 22nd at 7:00. Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson and based on Raymond Arsenault’s book of the same name, this film explores the journey of a diverse group of activists who made their way through the deep south in 1961to challenge segregation and systematic racism of the Jim Crow south. Their trip was unprecedented and dangerous explain those in charge of organizing the film series: “Freedom Riders tells the terrifying, moving, and suspenseful story of a time when white and black volunteers riding a bus into the deep south risked being jailed, beaten, or killed, as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks.” Interspersing reflections with historic images, the film includes historic footage from the journey, including previously unreleased 8 mm footage of the burning bus where several Freedom Riders were trapped. For decades this footage was held as evidence by the FBI. The film received an Emmy in 2012.

The films will be followed by a community discussion session hosted by ATU. All films are free and open to the public. You can visit http://createdequal.neh.gov/ to find a teacher’s guide to the films, learn more about the series and even view the films in their entirety. For more information about the dates and location call the Ross Pendergraft Library at 479-964-0569.

Further reading:

Click here to watch previews of the films and view full films online. 

Click here for resources for teachers

Were you able to attend the series? I’d love to hear how the films inspired you. 

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The Seed and the Story is a partnership with the Courier newspapers in Pope and Yell County, Arkansas. This weekly column explores folklife, oral history, and community in central Arkansas, particularly the Yell County area where the column originates. Columns are often written in partnership with the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action and humbly attempt to bridge intergenerational themes in the region.