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Hudson Valley Press

January 29th, 2014

Series on the Struggle for Civil Rights

‘Created Equal’ signature image courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection
POUGHKEEPSIE - As part of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District’s observation of Black History Month in February, Adriance Memorial Library hosts a film, concert and discussion series focused on the lengthy history of individual and collective efforts to bridge the American racial divide.

The film series “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. These four films discuss the importance of race in the making of American democracy, the power of individuals to effect change, and the historical context in which Americans have struggled with ideas such as freedom, equality, and citizenship. Discussions of the films will be facilitated by Dr. Quincy Mills, Assistant Professor of History at Vassar College.  Dr. Mills’ research focuses on African American urban and business history, race and segregation, and social and political movements.

“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Stuggle” films will be screened and discussed on Tuesday nights at 6 pm through February at The Auditorium, 105 Market Street in Poughkeepsie.  On February 4, The Abolitionists (2013) brings to life the struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery including William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown. The series continues on February 11, with Slavery by Another Name. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name (2012) sheds light on the often unacknowledged system of forced, unpaid labor, mostly affecting Southern black men that existed in the United States until World War II. On February 18, the series features The Loving Story. Mildred and Richard Loving knew it was illegal for them to live as a married couple in Virginia: she was African American, and he was Native American. Through little-known filmed interviews and LIFE magazine photographs, this 2011 documentary brings to life the Lovings’ marriage and the legal battle that followed their arrest.  On February 25, Freedom Riders (2011) tells 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.

The weekend on February 22 and 23 brings two concerts to The Auditorium stage, both open to the public free of charge. On Saturday, February 22, from 10 to 11 am, it’s Dream Alive: Songs of Hope & Freedom.  Through song, Kim and Reggie Harris tell the stories of Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other African-Americans who helped build this country. Original and familiar songs will encourage audience participation.  All ages of children and adults are welcome.  On Sunday, February 23 at 2:30 pm, The Dutchess Antislavery Singers take the stage. The Dutchess Antislavery Singers, part of the non-profit Mid-Hudson Antislavery History Project, research and perform abolitionist music. Their program traces the rise of the interracial antislavery movement from its religious origins to its political clout in the 1850’s, employing hymns, patriotic tunes, parlor music, and even minstrel tunes.

On Thursday, February 27, 7 pm, join an open discussion of The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  This book is a probing examination of the current state of the American judicial and prison system.   Patrons can request the title ahead of time online or at circulation.  The book discussion is scheduled for the Adriance Greenspan Board Room, 93 Market Street in Poughkeepsie.

Thanks to a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Adriance Memorial Library is one of 473 cultural organizations selected to participate in “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” part of the NEH Bridging Cultures initiative. Planned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the initiative is a collaboration with The Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. 

The Auditorium is located at 105 Market Street and Adriance Memorial Library is at 93 Market Street in Poughkeepsie.  Call 845-485-3445 X 3702 or see for more information.

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