WSIU, African American Museum To Present Free Film Screening

Feb 13, 2012


For Immediate Release

Monday, January 30, 2012

Contacts: Vickie Devenport, WSIU Outreach Coordinator, (618) 453-6148,

Carbondale, Ill. -- In recognition of Black History Month, WSIU Public Broadcasting, the public media arm of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), and the African American Museum of Southern Illinois will present a free film screening of the powerful PBS documentary, American Experience: Freedom Riders, followed by a discussion featuring original Freedom Rider Ernest "Rip" Patton of Nashville, Tennessee.

The film screening and discussion will be held this Saturday, February 4 at 2:30pm at the African American Museum of Southern Illinois, located in the University Mall, 1237 East Main in Carbondale. American Experience: Freedom Riders tells the story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. At that time, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. In protest of Jim Crow laws, an integrated band of college students decided, en masse, to risk everything and ride together on Greyhound buses bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and their efforts brought the Kennedy administration and the American public face-to-face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.

Ernest "Rip" Patton, Jr., who is featured in the documentary, was a 21-year-old Tennessee State University student and drum major in the school's marching band when he boarded a bus bound for Jackson, Mississippi on May 24, 1961. Patton was arrested and held in the Parchman State Prison Farm for 62 days and was among 14 Tennessee State University students who were expelled for participating in the Rides. He went on to work for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in New York City, and in later years, worked as a jazz musician, a long-distance truck driver, and a community leader. For the past few years, Patton also has served as a Freedom Rider on an annual university-sponsored Civil Rights tour of the Deep South. For more information about the film screening and Ernest "Rip" Patton, contact Vickie Devenport at (618) 453-6148 or Learn more about American Experience: Freedom Riders at

About WSIU Public Broadcasting

WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. The WSIU stations reach more than three million people across five states and beyond through three digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and an education and community outreach department.

WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. The WSIU stations partner with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the academic and public service missions of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. WSIU's programs and services are partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.