Freedom Riders is powerful and harrowing in equal measure. The film follows the inspirational story of six months that changed America permanently. From May until November of 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives – and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment – for simply travelling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. The piece will screen tonight, 24 January, at the Pegasus, Oxford.
The “Freedom Riders” featured in the film deliberately violated the Jim Crow laws and were consequently met with bitter racism and mob violence, testing their belief in non-violent activism to the limits. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till) 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 first-hand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.
The film is put on by the Black Screen collective who present films from the black experiences in the UK and around the world with discussion and debate about the issues raised. Their intentions go beyond providing outstanding cinematic screenings and they also meet together, as a community, and discuss what is important to individuals within society. Freedom Riders is screened at Pegasus Theatre in conjunction with Marten Luther King day, a federal holiday celebrated in America on the third monday in January, this year it was celebrated on 20 January.
Black Screen Season: Freedom Riders, 24 January, 7pm, Pegasus, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE.