|This display, housed behind a makeshift jail cell, displays the mugshots of arrested Freedom Riders. Photo by Danielle Lacey|
The Cross Cultural Center has been transformed into a museum, complete with subtle lighting, a black shadowed backdrop and spirituals playing in the background as part of their exhibit on the Freedom Riders, a group of activists who aimed to test the 1960 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled segregation on interstate travel illegal.
"Hard work was put forth to transform our space from a student lounge to a museum," said Patrice French, program coordinator for the Cross Cultural Center. "Freedom songs play softly in the background while the documentary Freedom Riders plays on our TV. Twenty-four boards highlighting leaders, politicians and all of the riders hang from the ceilings along the perimeter, while 8-foot panels allow visitors to follow the story of the rides. Visitors have an opportunity to learn about the Freedom Rides in a variety of ways."
November is Diversity Month at SLU and the Cross Cultural Center is hosting the exhibit on the 1961 Freedom Rides in collaboration with the African American Studies Program and the Department of History. The exhibit, designed by Cross Cultural Center staff, takes visitors to a time when rights were privileges and where simply sitting on a bus could result in being attacked, arrested and jailed.
"When walking into Freedom Riders, I felt a spirit that moved me past being on SLU's campus and into a true sensory experience," said Geoffrey Reid, a graduate student and Center visitor. "The exhibit presented great information on a level that was easy to read, make connections with other movements and was intriguing for those who have knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement."
The exhibit will be available to view through Friday, Nov.11, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and all are invited to learn more about the valiant efforts of a diverse group of volunteers--black and white, young and old, male and female, secular and religious, Northern and Southern--who united in the struggle for civil rights in the Jim Crow South.
"This year marks the 50th anniversary of such a significant event in history," said LaTanya Buck, director of the Cross Cultural Center. "Our hope is for the exhibit to give students a deeper understanding of this Civil Rights Movement in U.S. history and encouragement as social justice change agents."
In addition to the exhibit, the following events provide the SLU Community with opportunities to learn more about the Freedom Rides:
Cross Cultural Center Monthly I AM SERIES: The Freedom Rides and Youth Activism Then and Now
featuring guest panelists from the Department of History and the African American Studies Programs
Noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9
251 A and B in the Busch Student Center
Billikens After Dark: Private Exhibit Viewing and Documentary Screening
9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10
253 B and C in the Busch Student Center