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"Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle" Event Series at WIU

January 22, 2014

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MACOMB, IL – Thanks to faculty and personnel in the Western Illinois University Libraries, Department of African American Studies and Department of History, Western is one of only 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of four films, which chronicle the history of the civil rights movement, by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The NEH National Film Project, "Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle," is one that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion about America's civil rights history. The documentaries, "The Abolitionists," "Slavery by Another Name," "Freedom Riders" and "The Loving Story," include scenes from incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all and will be shown at Western in February and early March (see schedule below). In 2011, "Freedom Writers" garnered three Emmy Awards. In 2013, "The Abolitionists" was nominated for an Emmy in the "Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series" category, while "The Loving Story" was nominated for three Emmy Awards and won the George Foster Peabody Award.

The co-scholars for the grant award at Western include F. Erik Brooks, professor and chair of the African American studies department, and Peter Cole, professor, history department. As part of the series, Northwestern University African American Studies Dept. Chair and African American Studies and History Professor Martha Biondi will present, "The Black Revolution on Campus: Black Students and the Transformation of Higher Education." The schedule for the event series, which is open free to the public and is enabled by the grant award, is as follows:

  • "The Black Revolution on Campus: Black Students and the Transformation of Higher Education," by Martha Biondi, 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, Morgan Hall 109.
    Biondi's presentation will cover an extraordinary chapter in the Black freedom struggle, when Black students rose up and pressed for change on college campuses across the country. Inspired by Stokely Carmichael's call for Black Power and Black self-determination and shocked and saddened by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Black students and their allies won significant reforms, even as they endured considerable violence, intense criticism and mass arrests. The Black liberation did not die with the death of Dr. King, it accelerated and spread, vastly expanding access to college for the multiracial working class and challenging definitions of merit, knowledge and universalism.
  • "The Abolitionists," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, University Union Sandburg Theatre
  • "Slavery by Another Name," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, University Union Sandburg Theatre
  • "Freedom Riders," 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, University Union Sandburg Theatre
  • "The Loving Story," 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, University Union Sandburg Theatre

"Created Equal" is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

For more information, contact Tammy Sayles, marketing and outreach librarian, at (309) 298-3298 or via email at

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