Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle Film Festival

The Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. This program was developed in partnership between The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Gilder Lehrman Institute of American, Moonstone is honored to be a participant.

The Abolitionists (180 minutes) – vividly brings to life the struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery. Through innovative use of reenactments, this three-episode series puts a face on the anti-slavery movement—or rather, five faces: impassioned New England newspaper editor William Lloyd Garrison; former slave, author, and activist Frederick Douglass; Angelina Grimké, daughter of a rich South Carolina slaveholder; Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the enormously influential Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and John Brown, ultimately executed for his armed seizure of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The film’s release in 2013 also marked the 150th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation

Slavery By Another Name (90 minutes) – It was a shocking reality that often went unacknowledged, then and now: A huge system of forced, unpaid labor, mostly affecting Southern black men that lasted until World War II. Based on the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name (90 minutes) tells the stories of men, charged with crimes like vagrancy, and often guilty of nothing, which were bought and sold, abused, and subject to sometimes deadly working conditions as unpaid convict labor. Interviews with the descendants of victims and perpetrators resonate with a modern audience. Christina Comer, who discovered how her family profited from the system, comments that “the story is important no matter how painful the reality is.”

Freedom Riders (120 minutes) – Attracting a diverse group of volunteers—black and white, young and old, male and female, secular and religious, northern and southern—the Freedom Rides of 1961 took the civil rights struggle out of the courtroom and onto the streets of the Jim Crow South. Freedom Riders (120 minutes) 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 film includes previously unseen amateur 8-mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped, taken by a local twelve-year-old and held as evidence since 1961 by the FBI.

The Loving Story (77 minutes) – When Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested in July 1958, in Virginia, for violating a state law that banned marriage between people of different races, such laws had been on the books in most states since the seventeenth century. But the Lovings never expected to be woken up in their bedroom in the middle of the night and arrested. The documentary brings to life the Lovings’ marriage and the legal battle that followed through little-known filmed interviews and photographs shot for Life magazine.

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (84 minutes) This documentary chronicles the life of openly gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, best known for organizing the 1963 March on Washington, D.C. Brother Outsider has introduced millions of viewers around the world to the life and work of Bayard Rustin — a visionary strategist and activist who has been called “the unknown hero” of the civil rights movement. A disciple of Gandhi, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., and the architect of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin dared to live as an openly gay man during the fiercely homophobic 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The recipient of more than 25 awards and honors, Brother Outsider has been shown at The United Nations, The Kennedy Center, and for members of Congress, as well as at hundreds of schools, community forums, labor gatherings, faith organizations, and film festivals.

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