The first night of Florida Philanthropic Network’s 2012 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy featured something new at the Summit: A Dinner & A Movie event, sponsored by Wells Fargo. We screened the Emmy-winning American Experience PBS documentary Freedom Riders. After the movie we had a discussion with Dr. Ray Arsenault of the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, whose book was the basis for the movie, and former Freedom Riders David and Winonah Myers.
The documentary itself was moving, disturbing, intriguing and inspiring – it’s easy to see why it won three Emmys last year. It shared details I never knew about six months in 1961 when more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. After facing brutal beatings, extended jail time in sometimes harsh conditions, burned buses and life-threatening showdowns with angry mobs, these brave young men and women ultimately succeeded in removing segregated sections on all interstate buses and trains and all bus and train stations and facilities. Continue reading