A unique exhibit highlighting the work of civil rights activists known as the Freedom Riders will be on display next month at Strong Middle School.
The Freedom Riders Traveling Exhibit explores six months in 1961 when more than 400 courageous Americans — old and young, black and white, men and women, Northern and Southern — risked their lives to challenge segregation.
“We are pleased to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” Strong social studies teacher Emily DelGrego said about having been one of only 20 sites nationwide picked to host the exhibit.
Other sites include Lehman College in New York City, the San Diego Public Library and the Birmingham History Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
Recently, eighth graders at the school appeared before the Board of Education to announce the arrival of the exhibit, which will be on display in the school's library during the entire month of February.
"Our eighth graders have created several committees of writers, speakers, entrepreneurs and docents for the upcoming exhibit. Their work will culminate in two nights of public viewing on February 26th and 28th, where students will serve as docents, touring community members through the exhibition," said DelGrego.
The public viewings will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on both evenings.
DelGrego introduced the civil rights group to her students earlier this school year and received a grant from the Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation to host the exhibit.
The Freedom Riders Traveling Exhibit combines powerful photography and news coverage of the 1961 freedom rides and examines the movement from many perspectives —that of the Riders, the Kennedy administration, and the international community.
“The 1961 Freedom Rides are an inspiring example of what ordinary individuals can accomplish," DelGrego said. "The actions and the bravery of the Freedom Riders provide invaluable lessons for our young people today, and for anyone who hopes to make a difference in our community, country, or world.”
In addition to leading tours of the exhibit, students plan to sell Freedom Riders t-shirts to raise money for civil rights organizations.
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