Philanthropy News Digest Profiles Freedom Riders Community Engagement EffortsEarlier this month, Philanthropy News Digest's blog PhilanTopic featured an article on the community engagement campaigns for the award-winning film Freedom Riders entitled "'Freedom Riders': Lessons for a New Generation." Written by contributor Kathryn Pyle, the article included an interview with Firelight's community engagement specialist, Sonya Childress. Firelight Media launched a community engagement campaign for the film to highlight lessons from the Rides, draw parallels between the struggles of the 1960s and today, and support youth-led action around current issues. Childress stated: "We saw our job as bringing the film to a different audience--particularly youth, and including African-Americans, but people who weren't necessarily connected to the civil rights movement. In targeting youth groups, we immediately thought of the Dream Act, because the story of Freedom Riders is a story about multi-ethnic organizing. We wanted to reach people working on immigration reform who do not see the civil rights movement as part of their history or as relevant to their activism. And we wanted to help them use the film in their own campaigns." In addition to working with youth organizations across the country, our team also released United in Courage: A Community Resource Guide for the film FREEDOM RIDERS, available for download here.
Pyle's article also covered the role of foundations in supporting films as part of a strategy for deep social impact. Atlantic Philanthropies, the Open Society Foundations (through its Campaign for Black Male Achievement), and the National Black Programming Consortium funded the Firelight Media campaign. It is also important to note that funders recognized that community engagement happens through a variety of complementary efforts. Definitely check out this important article. We also extend a special shout a few other important campaigns that also engaged audiences around Freedom Riders. Check out the 2011 Student Rides, Democracy in Action, and the Gilder Lehrman online exhibition.