A showing of the documentary “Freedom Riders,” followed by a panel discussion, will be held Saturday in Salt Lake City to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and mark the anniversary of his assassination.
The film, which tells the harrowing story of a 1961 challenge to the racial segregation of interstate travel on public buses and trains, will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Main Library Auditorium, 210 E. 400 South.
The public is invited to attend the free event, which is sponsored by the NAACP Salt Lake Branch and Tri-State Conference of Idaho, Nevada and Utah.
Scheduled panelists are Jackie Thompson, director of the Educational Equity Department at Davis School District; Forrest Crawford, professor and former assistant to the president for diversity at Weber State University; Frances Battle, principal at Bryant Middle School; and Karen Hale, director of communications, Office of the Mayor of Salt Lake City. The moderator is Edward L. Lewis Jr., NAACP Executive Committee member.
The documentary — directed by Stanley Nelson and screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival — covers six months beginning in May 1961, when more than 400 civil rights activists traveled in interracial groups to bring public attention to racial segregation and demand equal treatment. Their non-violent protest was met with racism and mob violence, and some were beaten and jailed.
“Freedom Riders” was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is part of the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” set of films produced by the NEH along with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The films are used in programs held by the NAACP and other groups as part of the NEH Bridging Cultures initiative.
King was shot and killed on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. He was in the city to support striking sanitation workers.