Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

Fifty years ago on November 1, new rules issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission, ending discrimination in interstate travel, went into effect. Tested by citizens, black and white, who boarded buses in the north and traveled south, often confronting bigotry-induced violence, their efforts heralded the end of legal segregation and the road to civil rights for African-Americans.

Commemorating the Freedom Rides of 1961, Sarah Lawrence College, in cooperation with Arts Westchester, presents a series of events, reflecting on freedom, democracy and equality in America.

  • November 1 at 5 p.m.
    Opening reception of commemoration events including an art and poetry exhibition, titled "Roads to Equality," which will run throughout the month of November
  • November 1 at 6:30 p.m.
    A screening of the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary including an introduction and Q&A with the director, Stanley Nelson
  • November 2 at 5:30 p.m.
    A lecture by Harvard Graduate School of Education associate professor Mark R. Warren titled, "Fire in the Heart: White Activists and Racial Justice since the Freedom Rides"
  • November 3 at 7 p.m.
    A program of spoken word, including an address by George Holmes, Executive Director of C.O.R.E. (Congress of Racial Equality); poetry reading and remarks by Russell Goings on some of the most influential African American artists; an interview with Freedom Riders Francis Randall, Sarah Lawrence History Professor Emeritus, and Laura Randall, Economics Professor Emerita of Hunter College, and poetry performances by Sarah Lawrence faculty member Alwin Jones and students and music and poetry by the Lynn Beville Ensemble
  • November 30 at 7:30 p.m.
    A concluding concert with traditional protest and gospel songs and inspirational music sung a cappella by SLC alumnus Nehemiah Luckett and Sarah Lawrence alumni friends; jazz and folk music performed by Sarah Lawrence College students; and poetry performed by members of the College and Yonkers communities

The exhibition features work by civil-rights-era and contemporary artists, including paintings by two of the most important African-American artists of the 20th century, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, on loan from the collection of Russell Goings, and "Liberté," created by Yonkers-based artist Vinnie Bagwell, first cast in bronze to represent the New York Greater Metropolitan Area in a year-long exhibition of commissioned work at Montgomery Alabama's newly opened Freedom Rides Museum in the historic Greyhound Bus station.

Support for this month-long commemoration comes from Sarah Lawrence College: DAPS (Diversity and Activism Programming Subcommittee) the Offices of the President, Dean of the College, Diversity, Community Partnerships and Public Affairs, Women’s History Program, Theatre Outreach and the Film faculty; the Donald C. Samuel Fund, the City of Yonkers Department of Planning and Development, the Manhattan Country School, Russell L. Goings, Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO/CLC, and Chuck Schorr Lesnick.

All events will held be in the Heimbold Visual Arts Center, with the exception of the concluding concert, which will be in Reisinger Concert Hall. Seating is limited. For reservations and further information please call (914) 395-2412 or e-mail