FREEDOM RIDES MUSEUM TO VIRTUALLY HOST NATIONALLY BROADCAST EVENT WITH FREEDOM RIDERS AND GOOD TROUBLE DIRECTOR DAWN PORTER

07/07/20

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andi Martin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager  

andi.martin@ahc.alabama.gov, 334-230-2680

July 7, 2020


Freedom Rides Museum to Virtually Host Nationally Broadcast Event with Freedom Riders and GOOD TROUBLE Director Dawn Porter

 

(Montgomery, AL) The Freedom Rides Museum, an historic property of the Alabama Historical Commission, will host a special virtual event honoring the release of GOOD TROUBLE, a powerful new film about Civil Rights legend John Lewis. Fellow Freedom Riders Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Dr. Rip Patton and GOOD TROUBLE Director Dawn Patton (TRAPPED, GIDEON’S ARMY) will participate in “Let’s Talk About GOOD TROUBLE” – a live Q&A virtual event held in concert with Magnolia Pictures and the Capri Theatre. More than 300 theatres around the country are carrying the livestreamed event via their platforms.

 

“Let’s Talk About GOOD TROUBLE” is free and will take place virtually via Facebook on the Freedom Rides Museum Facebook page, Magnolia Pictures Facebook page, or at https://bit.ly/GOODTROUBLE on Thursday, July 9 at 7:00pmCST/8:00pm EST.

 

The livestream will take place at the historic Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station – now the site of the Freedom Rides Museum – the very location where John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette, and others stepped off a bus and were beaten by a mob while changing the course of history. Tune-in for a virtual evening in celebration of the newly released documentary and to all those getting into “good trouble” in the name of equality.

 

Newly premiered film John Lewis: GOOD TROUBLE profiles the civil rights activist and Congressman, who dedicated his life and a career to fighting for equality. The film has received raved reviews as it brings into focus an intimate profile of the crusader whose humble beginnings are cemented by Alabama roots. Universally admired as one of the most courageous and principled leaders of the Civil Rights Era, Lewis was one of the original 1961 Freedom Riders who mobilized to protest against interstate transportation segregation, and an organizer of 1964’s “Freedom Summer” to register African American voters across the South.  As the young chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was one of the ‘Big Six’ Civil Rights leaders of the era.  He was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Lewis has often been singled out for his leadership and bravery on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. There, along with 600 other nonviolent marchers, Lewis was met by Alabama state troopers who ordered the protesters to disperse.

 

Theatre goers will be familiar with the ‘talk back’ format, pairing subject matter experts with the film, or in this case, with those who stood beside John Lewis during various Civil Rights campaigns. The evening will highlight connections to the historic Greyhound Bus Station that now stands as a testament to the strength and courage of these ordinary, mostly young people, whose extraordinary acts of sacrifice changed the history of the nation and the world. Much like Lewis, the overwhelming majority of the Freedom Riders have dedicated their lives to the cause of equality and justice; their fight for freedom was not bound to the months related to the rides.

 

“We are thrilled to present this tribute to a living monument to civil rights, and hero from Alabama,” said Martin McCaffery, Director, Capri Theatre.“I only wish we were able to show it in the Capri Theatre where the audience could collectively express their admiration for John Lewis.”

 

For tickets to the film John Lewis: GOOD TROUBLE, please visit the Capri Theatre’s website:  www.capritheatre.org to experience the film from the comfort of your own home via Virtual Cinema. The Capri Theatre has generously decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from the first week’s screening to the Friends of Freedom Rides Museum to continue supporting the work of the Freedom Rides Museum in documenting and interpreting this significant time in the Modern Civil Rights Movement.   

 

Men and women of diverse ages, races, and creeds, called themselves Freedom Riders, traveling under the banner of non-violent protest and the right to participate in desegregated travel as set forth in Boynton v. Virginia and the Interstate Commerce Act, which forbade racial segregation in public transportation. Their goal was to travel through the Deep South all the way through to New Orleans, LA in commemoration of the seventh anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The Riders did not begin or end their journey in Montgomery, AL, but their arrival changed the city and our nation.

 

Their Alabama journey carried them through Anniston, AL where their bus was firebombed; a second group of students on a Trailways Bus made it to Birmingham, AL where they were met by more violence. Finally, the last group of Riders, comprised of several students from Nashville, made their way to the Capitol city. Unbeknownst to those traveling to Montgomery from Birmingham, the protection of state police escorts drifted away, and the Riders, none of whom were older than 22, stepped off a bus at the Montgomery Greyhound Station on May 20, 1961 at 10:23am. They were met by a mob that grew into the thousands as the city descended into chaos. Riders, including now-Congressman John Lewis, Jim Zwerg, Bernard Lafayette, and others, were brutally beaten. The ensuing events surrounding their arrival initiated a chain reaction all the way up to the Federal Courts and the Kennedy Administration that resulted in landmark rulings by Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, which continue to shape Civil Rights law today. Their goal was to help end racial segregation in public transportation – and they did.

 

The 1961 Freedom Rides were a watershed event, one Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “a psychological turning point in our whole struggle.” The historic bus station stands today as a testament to the effectiveness of nonviolent direct-action protest and how these methods were employed by ordinary citizens to garner broad support for the civil rights movement from national leaders.

 

The Freedom Rides Museum, located in the historic Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station, profiles the courageous actions of more than 430 ordinary people who risked their lives and freedom for equal treatment under the law and is one of only two sites in the nation exclusively dedicated to interpreting the Freedom Rides and its enormous impact on American civil rights history. 

 

Eddie Griffith, Chairman, Alabama Historical Commission “We are honored to share the story of their courage and commitment to justice and equality for the thousands of visitors from around the world who visit the Freedom Rides Museum each year.”

 

“The actual scene of the event, or people may call it the scene of the crime, is important because as our young people come along, they have got to be able to put it into perspective. It is just not simply a narrative, but you can see the actual place. And that’s why I’m so glad the museum is there, at that same bus station,” said Freedom Rider Dr. Bernard Lafayette. “It shows it is a reality, and it did happen. We can go revisit that and be able to imagine it happening. It just isn’t an artform, it is a reality of our history.”

 

 

About the Participants:

 

Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr. was born July 29, 1940 in Tampa, FL, growing up in Tampa and Philadelphia. At the time of the Freedom Rides, he was a student at the American Baptist Theological Seminary, in Nashville; a leader in the Nashville Student Movement. He stayed in Jackson after bailing out to recruit new Freedom Riders and organize the Jackson Nonviolent Movement.

 

Following the Freedom Rides, Dr. Lafayette worked for SCLC, helping run numerous campaigns, including Selma, AL, in 1961 and 1965. He served as the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. In the mid-1970s, he helped develop a curriculum for Kingian nonviolence. He has since taught at several colleges and universities, serving as Senior Scholar-in Residence at the Candler Divinity School at Emory University and chair of the national board of SCLC. In 2016, Dr. Lafayette was awarded the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace for his work as a civil rights activist.

 

Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton, Jr. was born March 10, 1940 in Nashville, and grew up there. At the time of the Freedom Rides, he was a student at Tennessee State University, a drummer in the marching band and active in the Nashville Student Movement. Following his arrest and sentence in Jackson, he helped train subsequent Freedom Riders and continued to work in the movement.

 

In 1972, Dr. Patton began a career as a truck driver and was one of eight drivers chosen by the American Trucking Association to travel the country promoting highway safety. He was also the first long-haul truck driver selected to serve on the National Highway Safety Advisory Committee. He retired in 2006 in Nashville, where he volunteers in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library, speaking about the movement. Every year he helps guide a civil rights tour for students from the Stetson School of Law.

 

About the Capri Theatre

The non-profit Capri Theatre is Montgomery’s longest continuously operating movie theatre. Community based, the Capri Theatre specializes in independent, foreign and documentary films and looks forward to the day it can safely reopen its doors to the public. www.capritheatre.org.

 

About the Freedom Rides Museum
Working with concerned citizens, The Alabama Historical Commission saved the Greyhound Bus Station from demolition in the mid-1990s. The Museum is located at the intersection of S. Court St. and Adams Avenue in downtown Montgomery. An award-winning exhibit on the building's exterior traces the Freedom Riders' history. It uses words and images of the Freedom Riders, those who supported them, and those who opposed them. Interior exhibits highlight additional information on the Freedom Riders and the way in which buildings were designed for racial segregation. Today, the Alabama Historical Commission operates this significant site.

 

About the Alabama Historical Commission

Located in historic downtown Montgomery at 468 S. Perry Street, the Alabama Historical Commission is the state historic preservation agency for Alabama. The agency was created by an act of the state legislature in 1966 with a mission to protect, preserve and interpret Alabama’s historic places. AHC works to accomplish its mission through two fields of endeavor: Preservation and promotion of state-owned historic sites as public attractions; and, statewide programs to assist people, groups, towns, and cities with local preservation activities. For a complete list of programs and properties owned and operated by the AHC, hours of operation, and admission fees please visit ahc.alabama.gov.  

 

 

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