Missouri Southern State University’s Spiva Library is one of a select few institutions across the country to be awarded the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” grant.

"Freedom Riders" will be screened on Feb. 26.

“Freedom Riders” will be screened on Feb. 26.

The series, which began Jan. 29, features four films that chronicle the history of the Civil Rights movement in America. 

The events feature a documentary screening followed by discussions led by local scholars.

“We hope that it helps community members and students grasp the long effort to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans,” said Amber Carr, public services librarian at Missouri Southern.

The film series will include:

Wednesday, Feb. 5: “Slavery by Another Name”

The film focuses on new forms of forced labor that kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II.

The discussion will be led by Dr. Norton Wheeler, an associate professor at MSSU where he teaches courses in Asian history and in U.S. history, including African American history. He is currently engaged in research projects involving Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver.

Wednesday, Feb. 12: “The Loving Story”

The film is the account of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision that overturned anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.

Dr. Ree Wells-Lewis will lead the discussion following the film. Wells-Lewis Lewis earned her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in sociology, with a minor in cultural anthropology in 1993. Beginning in graduate school, Professor Wells incorporated medical sociology into most of her academic, applied, and community service pursuits. She received a Medical Sociology Research Internship award from the Medical Sociology section of the American Sociological Association, 1989-90.

Wednesday, Feb. 26: “Freedom Riders”

Based on Raymond Arsenault’s book, the documentary offers an inside look at the brave band of activists who challenged segregation in the Deep South.

The discussion will be led by Dr. Steven Wagner, a professor of history at Missouri Southern since 2000. He teaches a variety of courses in 20th century United States history, including the Civil Rights era. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1999, and is the author of “Eisenhower Republicanism: Pursuing the Middle Way,” published in 2006.

Each event will include film clips and a discussion at noon in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. A screening of the full film and a discussion will be offered at 7 p.m. in Phelps Theatre, located in Billingsly Student Center. A special screening of “Slavery by Another Name” will be offered at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at George Washington Carver National Monument.

All of the programs are free and open to the public.

The series was made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.