College turns focus to Freedom Riders

Grove City College is marking Black History Month with several events that recall the rich history of America and its sometimes challenging past. 

The College is focusing on the Freedom Riders, civil rights activists who risked their lives and freedom in 1961 on integrated bus and train trips through the South. They were harassed, beaten and imprisoned, but their efforts drew national attention to the evil of segregation and injustice of Jim Crow laws.

 “The story of the Freedom Rides is one that should resonate with a college audience as many of the riders in 1961 were of college age. These young women and men saw an injustice in the persistent segregation of interstate transportation – despite segregation being ruled unconstitutional – and found a way to engage the process of justice and equality through non-violent direct action,” Dr. Todd Allen, professor of communications studies, said.

Grove City College will screen the acclaimed documentary “Freedom Riders” and host a discussion at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Sticht Lecture Hall in the Hall of Arts and Letters on campus. The film tells the story of the “bold and dangerous experiment designed to awaken the conscience of a complacent nation.”

Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr., who participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides, will speak on campus at 7 p.m. Feb. 20, also in Sticht Lecture Hall. Patton, then a 21-year-old college student, faced expulsion from Tennessee State University for following his Christian faith and belief in the Constitution that all men were created equal. “His story, and that of the other Freedom Riders, serves a testimony to following ‘what thus sayeth the Lord,’ no matter the consequences,” Allen said.

Both events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Education and Initiatives, which works to provide student services and coordinate individual and group activities to encourage multicultural awareness on campus, all with the goal of creating a campus environment supportive of diversity.  

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