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Civil Rights Programming to Air on WQED-TV This May In Recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders

April 25, 2011

George Hazimanolis

Civil Rights Programming To Air on WQED-TV
This May In Recognition of the 50th
Anniversary of the Freedom Riders

PITTSBURGH--Six months in 1961 changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the “Freedom Riders” met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism. The new documentary Freedom Riders from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE tells their story and will premiere Monday, May 16 at 9:00 p.m. on WQED-TV.

In advance of the television premiere, WQED Pittsburgh is hosting a FREE screening of Freedom Riders on Monday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at WQED Studios in Oakland. Following the screening a discussion and Q & A session will be held with one of the original Freedom Riders, Joan C. Browning, now a resident of West Virginia. Information regarding the screening and how to make reservations can be found at www.wqed.org/education. The WQED Education Department is accepting questions for Joan about her experience as a Freedom Rider in advance of the screening. Questions can be submitted to education@wqed.org by Friday, May 6. This discussion session will be recorded and archived on WQED’s website following the screening.

As part of the documentary’s corresponding community engagement initiative, WGBH Boston will take 40 college students on the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, an experiential learning opportunity for college students in conjunction with the broadcast of Freedom Riders and the 50th anniversary of the original May 1961 Freedom Rides.

Four students attending tri-state-area colleges have been chosen to participate in the Ride:

• Sarah Cheshire, Class of 2014, Oberlin College; Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies major

• Meghna Chandra, Class of 2013, University of Pennsylvania; Urban Studies major
• Diana Mahoney, Class of 2012, Messiah College; Human Development and Family Science major
• Robert Sgrignoli, Class of 2012, Mercyhurst College; Sports Medicine major

“With this project, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is taking a very powerful story and expanding its reach well beyond the television screen or the internet,” says Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH Boston, which produces AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. “The 2011 Student Freedom Ride represents what’s unique about public media and demonstrates WGBH’s and PBS’s commitment to inform and inspire students of all ages.”

In support of this commitment, WQED-TV will also broadcast additional civil rights programming, including:

Monday, May 2
Roads to Memphis: American Experience at 9:00 p.m.
Against the back-drop of the turbulent 60s, Roads to Memphis takes a look at the stories of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his assassin James Earl Ray, and the criminal case that followed Dr. King’s murder.

I Am a Man: From Memphis, A Lesson in Life at 10:30 p.m.
Sanitation worker Elmore Nickleberry tells the story of his and other workers’ 1968 strike in Memphis that transformed rights in the workplace.

Monday, May 9
Soundtrack for a Revolution: American Experience at 9:00 p.m.
The music of the civil rights movement was a powerful force in uniting words and action to inspire change. This documentary includes interviews, dramatic images, and performances by contemporary artists like John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots.

Jail, No Bail at 10:30 p.m.
Marking the 50th anniversary of the first “sit-in” that re-invigorated the civil rights movement, this program honors the “Friendship Nine” who through non-violent protest helped to end segregation.

WQED Pittsburgh, honored with the 2007 and 2006 Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award for Station Excellence, was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. The people of WQED create, produce and distribute quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within their community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and The WQED Education Department.

Freedom Riders Online
The first comprehensive online resource for information on this pivotal event in the civil rights movement, Freedom Riders online (www.pbs.org/freedomriders) is an invaluable resource for information about the 1961 Freedom Rides. The Freedom Riders website offers students, teachers, and the general public an interactive site to explore this event and more meaningfully engage in the content and the role of civic engagement in the shaping of society. In addition to streaming video of the full film, the site will offer 12 original short films, a fully animated map of the Rides, an interactive roster of the 436 original Riders, nearly two hours of video that illustrates the people, issues and timeline of the Freedom Rides, information on the 2011 STUDENT FREEDOM RIDE, and daily dispatches from the ride in May 2011.

Freedom Riders in the Classroom
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has partnered with Facing History and Ourselves, an international educational and professional development organization, to create comprehensive Freedom Riders curriculum materials that will be distributed to high school classrooms nationwide. Through a combination of in-person and online workshops, Facing History will train more than 650 teachers to use FREEDOM RIDERS in the classroom, and will present the film and curriculum at multiple educational conferences across the country. Curriculum materials are available online and educator trainings will occur over the course of 2011. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is also working with Teachers’Domain (www.teachersdomain.org/special/frriders/) to develop digital resources for middle and high school students and educators that will enhance the use of FREEDOM RIDERS in the classroom.

Television's most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been hailed as “peerless” (Wall Street Journal), “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune), and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including twenty-four Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, and fourteen George Foster Peabody Awards, one most recently for Two Days in October.

Exclusive corporate funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is provided by Liberty Mutual. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Freedom Riders has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Because Democracy Demands Wisdom. Additional funding provided by Lynn Bay Dayton, Nordblum Family Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.

Funding for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride
Exclusive corporate funding for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride provided by Liberty Mutual. Additional funding provided by Lynn Bay Dayton and the Fledgling Fund.

Complete information on FREEDOM RIDERS and the outreach campaign is available online at pbs.org/freedomriders.

For photos and additional information, visit pbs.org/pressroom

Follow the 2011 Student Freedom Ride:
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On Facebook:

CaraMar Publicity
Mary Lugo 770-623-8190 lugo@negia.net
Cara White 843-881-1480 cara.white@mac.com
Abbe Harris 908-233-7990 abbe@caramar.net

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George Hazimanolis
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