UMW Freedom Rides Exhibits

James Farmer and the Freedom Rides

Extended through April 9 on Ball Circle – look for the bus!
Free and open to the public

With a 40-foot-long silver bus as its central canvas, James Farmer and the Freedom Rides carries visitors back to the spring of 1961, when a group of courageous men and women risked their lives to desegregate interstate public transportation.

The historic journey comes to life through more than 30 archival images, some of them life-size, and words of the Freedom Riders, state and national officials, as well as those enraged by the riders’ actions.

See photographs from 1961 of the fire-bombed bus in Anniston, Ala., segregationist mobs in Birmingham, and the mayhem inside the original buses. Learn about the students who – despite certain violence and arrest – traveled from Nashville, Tenn., to join the 13 original Freedom Riders mid-journey.

Finally, add your voice to those of others as they ponder the question, “Would you get on the bus?” Visitors will be able to post their thoughts in the comments area of the exhibition.

James Farmer and the Freedom Rides is free and open to the public. School groups of all ages are encouraged to visit the University of Mary Washington campus and experience this one-of-a-kind exhibit.

James Farmer and the Freedom Rides was created by a UMW committee comprising Courtney Chapman, AJ Newell, Maria Schultz, Elisabeth Sommer, and Neva Trenis.

Freedom Rides Exhibit

created by Museum Exhibit Design and Interpretation students
March 30-May 8, 2011
Dodd Auditorium Lobby

This spring 14 senior UMW students in the historic preservation department’s Laboratory in Museum Exhibit Design and Interpretation will be developing and installing an exhibit on the Freedom Rides.

The primary focus of the exhibit will be the powerful photographs of the people who experienced the dramatic events that took place over the summer of 1961. The students, however, also hope to include objects such as an original CORE button, recruiting posters, memorabilia, and examples of what the riders brought with them on their journey. Most of all, the students want to inspire their fellow students and community members to come to a deeper understanding of James Farmer, who organized the Freedom Rides; the Freedom Riders themselves; and the legacy of these courageous people.

The first phase of the exhibit will be installed in time to celebrate the campus showing of the PBS film Freedom Riders on March 30. The second phase will be installed in time for graduation and the May 8 stop on the UMW campus by the PBS 2011 Student Freedom Ride bus.

The exhibit design class serves as a “real life” experience for students interested in professional museum work. It replicates the dynamics of exhibit development in the museum field in order to help students understand what goes into creating an exhibit. The students work in five teams, each of which focuses on a specific aspect of the exhibit, such as education or design, but the class makes all final decisions as a unit.