PUEBLO – In conjunction with the Created Equal film series, author and activist Thomas Armstrong will share his experience as a Freedom Rider with the Colorado State University-Pueblo community on April 7.
The four-part film series was made possible by a grant to the University Library by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. Freedom Riders will be shown at 7 p.m. on April 3 in LARC 109. The viewing is free and open to the public. The film chronicles the terrifying, moving, and suspenseful story of a time when white and black volunteers riding a bus into the Deep South risked being jailed, beaten, or killed, as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks.
Armstrong, author of Autobiography of a Freedom Rider: My Life as a Foot Soldier for Civil Rights will discuss his role as a Freedom Rider and civil rights activist beginning at 7 p.m. on April 7 in Occhiato University Center Ballroom.
The film includes previously unseen amateur 8-mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped, taken by a local 12-year-old and held as evidence since 1961 by the FBI. In the segregated South, when lynching and Klansmen and Jim Crow laws ruled, there existed a line of foot soldiers ready to sacrifice their lives for the right to vote, to enter rooms marked 'White Only,' and to live with simple dignity. They were called Freedom Riders, and Thomas M. Armstrong was one of them.
Autobiography of a Freedom Rider details Armstrong's burning need to create social change for his fellow black citizens. This richly woven memoir, which traces back to his great-grandparents as freed slaves, examines the history of the Civil Rights Movement, the devastating personal repercussions Armstrong endured for being a champion of those rights, the sweet taste of progressive advancement in the past 50 years, and a look ahead at the work still to be done.