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Chicago Premiere: 'Freedom Riders' Screening and Discussion

The year 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides – a historic movement which took place from May to November 1961, when over 400 mostly young Americans risked their lives and freedom to challenge the Jim Crow travel laws that remained in force throughout the South. These ‘Freedom Riders’ were committed to non-violent action, yet faced savage beatings, angry mobs, and imprisonment on their journeys.  Their efforts ultimately prompted Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to confront the Interstate Commerce Commission with its failure to enforce federal law, ending Jim Crow laws in interstate public transportation.

Please join us on Saturday, April 9 for the Chicago premiere of Freedom Riders About the film, Director Stanley Nelson says: “We felt that the story of the Freedom Riders had not been explored, and that it was an important human story about the beginning of what came to be known as the Civil Rights Movement.  We wanted to tell the story from as many different sides as possible. We wanted to include the voices of not only Freedom Riders but those who opposed them. We wanted voices of Southern Politicians and the Kennedy administration.”

Following the film, a post-screening discussion moderated by Adam Green, Ph.D, Professor of History at the University of Chicago, will take place with the film's director Stanley Nelson and former Freedom Riders Genevieve Hughes Houghton, Thomas Armstrong and Dan Stevens.

This event is FREE - reservations are required; for more information and reserve tickets, click here.

On May 7, the Illinois Humanities Council and WBEZ present a remarkable event of original work, inspired by Freedom Riders and presented as part of WBEZ's Off-Air Series.  To learn more about this event and to reserve tickets, click here.

About the Film
Freedom Riders (122 mins.) is based on the award-winning book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, and focuses on the campaign that went on to inspire a movement.  Created to honor of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, the film is directed by Stanley Nelson, a 2002 MacArthur Fellow known for groundbreaking historical documentaries. Nelson won a Primetime Emmy in Best Direction, nonfiction, for his film, The Murder of Emmett Till, which reopened the investigation of Till’s murder. For more information about the film, visit

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