Libraries celebrate MLK Day with two films

January 05, 2012

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday Jan. 16, Penn State University Libraries will show two videos in Foster Auditorium, 101 Paterno Library, on the University Park campus.

-- From 10 a.m. to noon: "Freedom Riders," a film by Stanley Nelson

In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated group of college students -- many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university -- decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the Deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face to face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.

Veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson's inspirational documentary is the first feature-length film about a courageous band of civil-rights activists. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, Nelson chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds. A preview is available at

-- From 2 to 3 p.m.: "For Love of Liberty: the Story of America's Black Patriots," a film by Frank Martin, featuring Halle Berry, Colin Powell and Morgan Freeman.

This powerful documentary salutes our African-American service men and women and reveres their dedicated allegiance to the United States military. Hosted by Halle Berry, narrated by Avery Brooks and featuring an introduction by Colin Powell, the film begins at the dawn of U.S. history, chronicling African-Americans who risked their lives to create and preserve freedom for their country while attempting to acquire it for themselves. "For Love of Liberty" uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records to document the accomplishments of African-American men and women since the earliest days of the republic. Their gripping personal stories paint a deeply moving historical account of service and sacrifice, from the Revolutionary War -- where the first casualty was a Black man, Crispus Attucks -- to today’s battle against global terrorism. A preview is available at

In addition "A Seat in Civil Rights History," a virtual exhibit of Greyhound Bus Black History month posters can be viewed at beginning on Jan. 3. A selection of these posters will be on display in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library, beginning Feb. 3.

Another digitized collection of interest is The Jack Rabin Collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists available at

The Martin Luther King Day and Black History month activities are sponsored by the University Libraries and the Libraries Diversity Committee. For more information, contact Shirley Davis at 814-863-5449.

Last Updated January 10, 2012