From Oct. 16 to Nov. 13, Ingram Library will display Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s 1961 Freedom Riders Exhibit. The exhibition illustrates the journey of interracial Americans who demonstrated dauntless bravery in their non-violent fight for civil rights.
The nationally esteemed exhibit will feature photos and news coverage depicting the momentous effect the Freedom Riders had on civil rights history. The riders’ intent was to make a bold statement on Southern buses as interracial groups to take a stand against segregation.
The Freedom Riders were exposed to tremendous hardships in their peaceful efforts for equality. Catherine Hendrics, who works with Dr. John Ferling, the President of Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society, said their nonviolent advances were successful.
“Between May and December 1961, over 400 black and white Americans risked their lives to desegregate interstate buses and trains and travel facilities. Many endured beatings and imprisonment in the process but in the end they prevailed. Theirs was the first unambiguous victory in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, and it raised expectations for greater victories in the future,” said Hendrics.
The exhibit will be comprised of three discussions by Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society, UWG Department of History and the UWG Center for Diversity Inclusion.
Dr. Raymond Arsenault, Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and author of “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” will speak in Ingram Library at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18. The program will include a book signing at 6:30 p.m. and reception.
At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, Dr. Larry Rivers of the UWG Department of History will speak in the Ingram Library on “The Civil Rights Struggle Before the Freedom Riders.”
On Monday, Nov. 5, at 3:30 p.m., Freedom Rider Joan Browning will speak about her own involvement and experiences as one of the four white females of 436 riders.
The Freedom Riders’ powerful persistence to challenge segregation with the ascendancy of peace over violence brought much greater results in the end.
“Often times violence proves to be counterproductive. In many situations, a non-violent approach is a much more productive way to go about things. Clearly, in terms of the Civil Rights Movement, those using non-violent techniques, as the Freedom Riders did, were able to achieve their ends in spectacular ways. The fact that they had so much success bears out the wisdom of the Freedom Riders and others who wished to change society through a philosophy of non-violence,” said Hendrics.
The exhibit is free and open to the community. The exhibition will be available for viewing during regular library hours.