‘Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle’ at MSU Libraries

Date(s) - 01/29/2014-03/04/2014
12:00 am

Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU


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Mississippi State University Libraries and the campus African American Studies program is announcing a series of film screenings, scholarly presentations and discussion forums on the history of civil rights in America.

Taking place between Jan. 29 and March 4, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” is a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded initiative that seeks to use the power of documentary films to encourage community discussions of the subject.

Each production tells stories of people who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions from slavery to segregation. Noted scholars on the program subjects will give presentations on subsequent days.

“The films effectively illustrate that the United States is a rising sun,” said Stephen Middleton, MSU’s African American Studies director. “They not only show that the United States subordinated African Americans, they show the growth of the civil rights movement, which led to the expansion of rights enjoyed by all Americans today.”

Stephen Cunetto, libraries system administrator, said MSU is among more than 450 institutions across the country awarded the Created Equal chronicle.

All MSU screenings and scholarly programs take place in the ground-floor Mitchell Memorial Library auditorium. They include:

–Wednesday, Jan. 29, 7 p.m. “The Abolitionists,” an Emmy-nominated film, focuses on the lives and struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery.

–Thursday, Jan. 30, 3 p.m. Tiffany Patterson, a Vanderbilt University associate professor of African American and diaspora studies, history and American studies, will examine slavery in the U.S. and other areas of the Atlantic.

–Monday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. “Freedom Riders,” another an Emmy-awarded production, tells the story of white and black volunteers riding a bus into the Deep South, taking risks of being jailed, beaten or killed as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks.

–Tuesday, Feb. 11, 3 p.m. Former Freedom Rider Dave Dennis will give a presentation, then be part of a panel discussion with fellow riders Mary Harrison Lee and Hollis Watkins. Middleton will moderate the session.

–Monday, March 3, 7 p.m. “The Loving Story,” a third Emmy-awarded documentary, will illustrate the struggles that followed a bi-racial marriage between Mildred and Richard Loving. Using little-known film interviews and photographs taken for a “Life” magazine article, the film documents the legal battle that followed their wedding.

–Tuesday, March 4, 3 p.m. “The Color of Loving–Marriage as a Constitutional Right” will be the topic of a presentation by Steven Hobbs, the Tom Bevill Chairholder of Law at the University of Alabama Law School.

Cunetto said the films do an excellent job of explaining “the long, and sometimes violent, effort to achieve the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

“We are pleased to have received a grant from NEH to provide programming around these films,” the veteran MSU library administrator added.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, NEH supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. Its many grants are designed to enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places.

The Created Equal film set, materials, and public programs are part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, undertaken in partnership with the New York-based Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. In bringing communities together to revisit shared history, the programs are designed to help bridge racial and cultural divides in American civic life. For more, visit www.createdequal.neh.gov.

The Lehrman Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to help promote excellence in the teaching and learning of American history.

For addition details on the special MSU event, contact Cunetto at 662-325-8542 or scunetto@library.msstate.edu.

For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.