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Documentary Screening: This Freedom Rider Invites You into My Prison Cell
February 23 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The 35-minute documentary describes the experience of Rabbi Phil Posner as a Freedom Rider in 1961. After the screening, he will be joined in conversation by Hezekiah Watkins, who was the youngest Freedom Rider arrested in Jackson and put on death row at Parchman Penitentiary at the age of 13.
In 1961, the first two buses of Freedom Riders arrived in Jackson, and, while they were not met by the same white mobs that they had faced in Alabama, they were arrested for violating segregationist codes, which had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in decisions in 1946 and 1960. Unbeknownst to those activists, an agreement had been reached between the Kennedy Administration and the Jim Crow power structure in Mississippi to prevent public violence but maintain segregated interstate travel. That moment, however, launched a movement, and 329 Freedom Riders were inspired to take up the cause and were arrested that summer in Jackson. All of them faced brutality out of the public eye while imprisoned, especially at the notorious Parchman Penitentiary. Their sacrifices finally forced the federal government to implement the desegregation of interstate travel in early 1962.