Moton hosts civil rights film series

Published 1:31 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

In anticipation of the vice presidential debate to be held at Longwood University on Oct. 4, the Moton Museum is showing two more of three nationally acclaimed documentaries about key chapters in the modern civil rights movement: the 1961 Freedom Rides, the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, and the Loving v. Virginia decision of 1967. The series began Wednesday with Freedom Riders, about the experiences of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the South in 1961.

“The film series provides a historic context for understanding current day civil rights issues, from voter ID laws to marriage equality to the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community, ” Larissa Fergeson, Longwood University professor of history and University Liaison to the Moton Museum, said. “These issues will no doubt be in the candidates’ and voters’ minds during the vice-presidential debate. We want to give community members a chance to learn about and discuss these issues together in a public space.”

On Wednesday, Freedom Summer will be shown. In the summer of 1964, black and white college-age volunteers flooded Mississippi, working to register black citizens to vote in anticipation of that year’s presidential election. The murder of three civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman — epitomized the risks students and citizens took to exercise a basic constitutional right.

Email newsletter signup

The documentary The Loving Story will be shown Sept. 21. The film tells the story of the Virginia couple at the heart of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring state laws banning interracial marriage unconstitutional. Their story is the subject of Loving, a feature film to premiere this November.

“The film series covers historical topics that are especially important for millennials who are looking to be civically engaged,” Cainan Townsend, director of education and public programs at the Moton Museum. “Young people of earlier generations waged battles to eliminate segregation and to gain the right to vote. Learning about what young people did in the 1960s is imperative for understanding and for working on today’s civil rights causes.”

This series is free and open to the entire community. Discussion will follow each of the films. This film series is part of the Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights series, generously sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.