Civil Rights Film and Discussion Series in Schenectady

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Civil RightsIn celebration of African American History Month, and to introduce four documentaries with riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America, the Schenectady County Historical Society will offer a series of discussion forums centered around four documentary films during the month of February.

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Created Equal uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials.
The Schenectady County Historical Society is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. The powerful documentaries The Abolitionists, Slavery by Another Name, The Loving Story, and Freedom Riders include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. Freedom Riders and The Loving Story won Emmys in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and The Abolitionists was a 2013 Emmy nominee.

Each of the films in the Created Equal series was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life. Visit for more information.

The Schenectady County Historical Society will feature conversations/discussions about the themes suggested in these historic films. Local scholars will introduce the films, and after the screenings, will facilitate discussion about the themes touched upon in the documentaries.

All film screenings and discussions will take place at the Schenectady County Historical Society’s downtown location at 32 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305. All Created Equal film screenings and discussions are free and open to the public.

The schedule of the film and discussion series is as follows:

Date: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Film: “The Abolitionists”
Film Synopsis: A small group of reformers in the 1830s launched one of the most ambitious social movements imaginable: the immediate emancipation of millions of enslaved African Americans.
Discussion Leader: Babette Faehmel, Assistant Professor, Schenectady County Community College

Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Film: “Slavery By Another Name”
Film Synopsis: Even after slavery, new forms of forced labor kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II.
Discussion Leader: Kenneth Aslakson, Assistant Professor, Union College

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Film: “The Loving Story”
Film Synopsis: Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia (1967).
Discussion Leader: Kori Graves, Assistant Professor, University at Albany

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Film: “Freedom Riders”
Film Synopsis: An inside look at a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights struggle, when a brave band of activists challenged segregation in the Deep South.
Discussion Leader: Ibram Kendi, Assistant Professor, University at Albany


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