Free and open to the public, this small-group discussion series encourages informed conversations around complex topics affecting Virginia. On the second Wednesday of each month, the Library will screen a segment from a documentary film, followed by a round-table conversation with input from a moderator and historical expert from the Library. Attendees are encouraged to share their perspectives with the group.
February 12’s event featured a screening from the film Freedom Riders and conversations around nonviolent activism during the struggle for racial justice. The Library of Virginia’s director of Public Services and Outreach, Gregg Kimball, moderated the discussion. For more information, contact Cindy Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential Discussion Questions:
- Are there certain circumstances under which nonviolent activism appears more effective than other forms of activism?
- Are strong leadership and a long-term plan necessary for effective nonviolent activism or can a disparate group with the right mindset produce the necessary solidarity and resistance to create change?
- Does activism always carry a component of an “us vs. them” perspective? Does nonviolent protest differ in this aspect from more violent activism?
- Has there been a purely nonviolent approach that effected change or has societal transformation seemed to required both a nonviolent sector and a “big stick” aggressive sector?
- Is it possible to have a respectful and yet violent response to disagreement? To oppression? Is nonviolence a given in respectful compromise?
- Is violence necessary to “wake people up” or bring attention to a serious issue? What is the most effective way to build awareness?
- Does the government have a responsibility to protect nonviolent activists? Do you think media/journalism sometimes offers protections?
- During their time, freedom rides, though nonviolent, were seen as radical and confrontational. Many believed they would set back the movement of civil rights. Is being confrontational always seen as potentially damaging to a cause? Are there ideas like that today?
LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA RESOURCES
- Freedom Riders : 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault
- Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement by Daniel Levine
- 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment : an Appraisal of Women’s Political Activism edited by Holly J. McCammon and Lee Ann Banaszak
- Protest, Power, and Change : an Encyclopedia of Nonviolent Action from ACT-UP to Women’s Suffrage by Roger S. Powers, William B. Vogele, Christopher Kruegler and Ronald M. McCarthy
- The Power of the People : Active Nonviolence in the United States by Robert Cooney and Helen Michalowski
- Scalawag : a White Southerner’s Journey through Segregation to Human Rights Activism by Edward H. Peeples and Nancy MacLean
- Death Blow to Jim Crow: the National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights by Erik S. Gellman
- Local People: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by John Dittmer
- The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement by Lance E. Hill
- Fearless : How a Poor Virginia Seamstress Took on Jim Crow, Beat the Poll Tax and Changed Her City Forever by Charlene B. Ligon and Kietryn Zychal
- Radio Free Dixie : Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power by Timothey B. Tyson
- The Struggle for Black Equality by Harvard Sitkoff
From the Library’s UncommonWealth Blog:
- Shaping the Constitution Online Classroom – The Freedom Rides Map
- Shaping the Constitution Online Classroom – The Civil Rights Protests in Danville, VA
- Guide to the 1963 Danville (Va.) Civil Rights Case Files, 1963–1973
- Wyatt Tee Walker Biography
- The Dandelion Insurrection Study Guide: Making change through nonviolent action by Rivera Sun
- March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (graphic novel illustrated by Nate Powell)
- March: Book Two by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (graphic novel illustrated by Nate Powell)
- March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (graphic novel illustrated by Nate Powell)
- Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change by John Lewis
- Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum
- Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan
- This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
Web Pages and Articles:
- Stanford University’s King Institute on Nonviolence
- Stanford University’s King Institute on Freedom Rides
- Arlington Magazine Resident recalls being a freedom rider
- Library of Congress articles on nonviolence
- NBC Interview – John Lewis Discusses Reenacting Historic Bus Rides of 1961
- United States Institute of Peace articles on nonviolent action
- USP Academy Micro-Course on Nonviolent Action
- Albert Einstein Institution – nonprofit founded to advance the study and use of strategic nonviolent action in conflict
- Smithsonian Magazine “The Freedom Riders, Then and Now”
- Humanities magazine “Freedom Riders” feature
- United State Civil Rights Trail on Freedom Rides
Films and Videos: