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Observing the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Joan Trumpauer Mullholland and Surviving "Freedom Riders" To Discuss their Journey at NPC Newsmakers News Conference

From sit-ins on college campuses and Woolworth's lunch counter to fire-bombed buses and detention on Alabama's death row…

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hear the plight of Freedom Riders, the vanguard of the Civil Rights Movement, from some of its surviving members. Keeping pace with Congress enacting of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 50 years ago, relive the prejudice of America's South and the violence of the Civil Rights Movement with activists as they share their first-hand experiences at the National Press Club on Thursday, March 20.

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In the early 1960s, Freedom Riders rode interstate buses – in racially mixed groups – into segregated areas to challenge local enforcement of segregation through "Jim Crow" laws, in defiance of Supreme Court rulings and official federal policies. Those Freedom Rides and the violent reactions they provoked bolstered the credibility of the Civil Rights Movement, calling national attention to the disregard for federal law and the brutal means used to enforce segregation.

A morning Newsmakers news conference, at 10 a.m. in the club's Zenger Room, will feature Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, civil rights activist Dorie Ladner, Freedom Rider Reginald Green and Loki Mulholland, writer/director of the documentary An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland – which the National Civil Rights Museum declared "belongs alongside those of other freedom rights champions."

That evening at 6 p.m., the NPC's Events Committee will host a screening of the documentary followed by a discussion hosted by NPC President Myron Belkind. Details about attending the screening are available here.

Who is Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and why is her story so important?

A 19-year-old Duke University student and part-time secretary in the Washington office of Sen. Clair Engle of California, Joan Trumpauer arrived in Jackson, MS by train from New Orleans, LA as part of the June 4, 1961 Mississippi Freedom Ride. Against the will of her family and the wishes of those in power, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland is a compelling example of personal courage, commitment and drive to raise awareness about generations of social injustice. As a privileged white teenager, her future looked safe and sound, but it was her choices that landed her face to face with the KKK and violent mobs. She spent months in prison during the Freedom Rides, and stood shoulder to shoulder with the great moral heroes of the civil rights movement.

Raised in the American South, Joan was well aware of racial bigotry and segregation. She describes her mother as a "stereotypical Georgia redneck" who held strongly to the beliefs of white racial superiority. Her privileged father came from Iowa and held less demeaning views, but neither of her parents would be prepared for what would take place between 1960 and 1964. Exposed to the conflicting values of segregation and the moral virtues written in the Bible by her youth pastor, her life changed when she heard a group of African American youths speak about their efforts to end segregation. Joan not only realized the truth about social injustice but that she as a white southern girl had inherent power to bring awareness to the inequalities.

"Segregation was unfair. It was wrong, morally, religiously," she says. "As a Southerner — a white Southerner — I felt that we should do what we could to make the South better and to rid ourselves of this evil."

This NPC Newsmaker news conference is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 20 at 10 a.m. in the Club's Zenger Room, on the 13th floor of the National Press Building at 529 14th St. NW, Washington DC, 20045. 

Contacts:
Aric Caplan, NPC Newsmakers Committee Member
[email protected], 301-943-9525

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SOURCE National Press Club

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