MOLINE, ILLINOIS - In 1961, black and white students deliberately violated Jim Crow laws in an effort to end segregation in the Deep South. This first group of 'Freedom Riders' were beaten and their bus burned. Should they continue? The answer came from a young civil rights leader from Fisk University. She said "It was clear to me that if we allowed the Freedom Ride to stop at that point, just after so much violence had been inflicted the message would have been sent that all you have to do to stop a nonviolent campaign is inflict massive violence." That young woman was Diane Nash.
The Rock Island Community Foundation has generously donated $2,000 to WQPT to help bring Diane Nash to the Quad Cities to speak at the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island on October 15th at 10:00 a.m. This event is free to the public, though donations are accepted at the door. Seating is on a first come/first served basis. She will also be the keynote speaker at the Illinois NAACP's Freedom Fund Banquet taking place at the i wireless Center that same night.
"After we aired 'Freedom Riders' in May and held public viewings of the film for junior high and high school students we wanted to expand the reach of the project," said WQPT General Manager, Rick Best. Original Freedom Riders who spoke at the April events were Joan Trumpauer-Mulholland and Dion Diamond. "Having Ms. Nash appear to speak is especially important because of her role as a leader in the civil rights movement," Mr. Best said. Ms. Nash is prominently featured in the film and was a guest on Oprah in April when she aired a special on the 50thAnniversary Freedom Rides.
"As the school year starts WQPT has made available to 100 area schools a DVD of the film and a study guide for teachers. Earlier in the year we conducted teaching seminars to help prepare instructors to teach this part of our civil rights history," said Ana Kehoe, WQPT Educational Outreach Director. "The response to our April event was remarkable and the WQPT Freedom Riders committee, made up of area educators and civil rights leaders, felt that we should continue our efforts." WQPT will also be airing an interview with Ms. Nash on "The Cities with Jim Mertens" on October 20th at 6:30 p.m.
WQPT is a public media service of Western Illinois University located in Moline, Illinois.
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