This year, we are fortunate to host a series of film screenings and public events called “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” at the Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY Oneonta) and New York State Historical Association. The goal of the series is to foster community discussion of our shared civil rights history and spur dialogue on the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America.
“Created Equal” is a nationwide program that is part of the Bridging Cultures Initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and is produced in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Over 450 institutions across the country have been chosen to host this series of film screenings and community programs. We’re pleased to be part of this group, and, more important, to be participating in a national conversation on the past and present of race, civil rights, and equality in the United States.
We’ve already hosted screenings and discussions of two excellent films: The Loving Story and Freedom Riders. Our next event is a lecture on February 13 by Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin on the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook for African American travelers during the Jim Crow era. Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book provided a list of safe places for African Americans to stop while traveling through segregated America. Sorin’s lecture will discuss how the Green Book offers insight into the ways that African Americans responded to racial segregation during the age of the automobile and found ways to challenge racism in their daily lives.
Additional events are scheduled for March and April. If you’re nearby, we hope you can join us in person. If not, I bet you can find a library or cultural institution in your area that is hosting the series. It’s a wonderful way to participate in civil dialogue about issues that are central to our democracy.