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New PBS Film to Feature Local Civil Rights Activist Film Screening, Discussion Set for Saturday, April 2 in Carbondale

Media Advisory - For Saturday, April 2, 2011

Contact: Vickie Devenport, Outreach Coordinator, WSIU Public Broadcasting, (618) 453-6148, vickie.devenport@wsiu.org

Carbondale, Ill. - Reporters, photographers, and camera crews are invited to cover a screening of the national PBS film American Experience: Freedom Riders, Saturday, April 2 from 3-6pm at the Varsity Center for the Arts, 418 S. Illinois in Carbondale.

Rev. Rick Jackson of Carbondale will introduce the film and moderate a post-screening discussion with original Freedom Riders Tom Armstrong of Chicago and Genevieve Houghton of Carbondale who will share their experiences and participate in a Q & A with the audience. A reception hosted by the African American Museum of Southern Illinois will follow.

American Experience: Freedom Riders tells the inspirational story of over 400 black and white Americans who in 1961 risked injury, incarceration, and death by traveling together on buses and trains through the Deep South to protest segregation. WSIU-TV 8 and WUSI-TV 16 will broadcast the documentary on Monday, May 16 at 8pm.

This event is co-sponsored by WSIU, the Illinois Humanities Council, the African American Museum of Southern Illinois, and the Varsity Center for the Arts.

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About American Experience: Freedom Riders
In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students - many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university - decided to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson presents the first feature-length film about this courageous band of civil-rights activists. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament of what can result from the combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.

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