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Social Justice Institute

To Honor the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

To Honor the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, The Social Justice Institute and Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity at Case Western Reserve University,

Facing History and Ourselves and WVIZ/PBS ideastream®
Welcome You to an Evening with

The Freedom Riders

Including a Screening of the Emmy Award winning PBS Documentary and a Conversation with
Ms. Diane Nash and the Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian

This free event takes place on Friday, September 30, at 6:00 p.m. in the Ford Auditorium of the Allen Memorial Medical Library located on CWRU’s campus at 11000 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, (on the corner of Euclid and Adelbert Roads). Cleveland-area students and teachers will be among the participants at the community event.

The event will feature a portion of the documentary followed by a Q&A discussion with Rhonda Y. Williams, Ph.D., Director, CWRU Social Justice Institute, associate professor of history, and award-winning author of The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women’s Struggles against Urban Inequality.

Freedom Riders is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

Freedom Riders features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the rides firsthand. Produced, written and directed by Stanley Nelson, the film premiered on the PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on Monday, May 16, on WVIZ/PBS ideastream. “The lesson of the Freedom Rides is that great change can come from a few small steps taken by courageous people. And that sometimes to do any great thing, it's important that we step out alone,” said filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

Facing History and Ourselves developed a study guide, Democracy in Action, to support educators and students in their use of the documentary. Visit riders to download a free copy of the guide, and to view a schedule of upcoming online webinars and workshops to assist teachers in planning lessons and units around Freedom Riders. “Students can relate to this part of the civil rights movement since the story involves young students banding together to desegregate the public transit systems,” said Mark Swaim-Fox, director of Facing History’s Cleveland office.

About Olivet Institutional Baptist Church

Olivet Institutional Baptist Church stands as one of the nations leading congregations of African-American religious expression. Christian community thriving in an urban setting, Olivet's 3000+ membership spans across the city of Cleveland and throughout northeast Ohio. Olivet has had a celebrated tradition of outreach, advocacy, activism and engagement in addressing some of the most significant social causes of the day. This involvement has figured in Olivet's national recognition. The Olivet pulpit has received some of the world's most prominent global figures of peace, justice, equality, compassion and goodwill, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Presidents Jimmy Carter and William Jefferson Clinton; Nobel Peace Prize winner and Vice-President Al Gore, and Oprah Winfrey. Today, Olivet continues its legacy of service through ministries and programs that promote spiritual and social wellness through partnerships with community stakeholders among them, The Cleveland Foundation, University Hospitals, Cuyahoga Community College, Greater Cleveland Congregations and many others. 

About Case Western Reserve University

Banding together to understand systemic inequality and advance just solutions, Case Western Reserve University's Social Justice Institute provides a framework for transformative interdisciplinary alliances; builds trust with and improves our neighborhood; and cultivates tomorrow's social change leaders. The university-wide institute advances education, research and community engagement that inspire creative, sustainable and—most importantly—just solutions to societal problems. To learn more about social justice initiatives at CWRU, visit the website at justice, or contact the Institute at 216.368.7568 or email:

The goal of the Office of the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity is insight on diversity—to promote inclusive thinking, learning and dialogue. The office has established a variety of programs to help realize the office’s objective to create a welcoming campus climate and to educate all members of Case Western Reserve University and its neighbors on the many resources available to advance mutual respect. Contact Dr. Marilyn S. Mobley, Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, 216.368.8877, for more information.

About Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. Over the years, Facing History has provided in-depth seminars for more than 29,000 educators, and its active teacher network reaches nearly two million students annually. 

About WVIZ/PBS Ideastream

ideastream is a non-profit organization that applies the power of media to education, culture and citizenship. It includes WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN, educational and public service cable channels, broadband interactive video distance learning, the Internet and other interactive media. Based on careful and ongoing ascertainment of community needs, ideastream acquires, creates and delivers content that connects those who seek knowledge with those who have it. ideastream leverages technical, creative and financial resources through partnerships with other organizations that share interests in education and public service. Support comes primarily from contributions made by individuals, foundations and corporations. Funding from state and federal agencies also plays a critical role.

About American Experience

Television’s most-watched history series, hailed as “peerless” by The Wall Street Journal, American Experience is “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune), and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, American Experience documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award.