The City of New Bedford Human Relations Commission is hosting a free public film viewing and community discussion on the documentary, “Freedom Riders” on Thursday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

This inspirational documentary is about a band of courageous civil rights activists calling themselves the Freedom Riders. Produced by the WGBH American Experience Series, “Freedom Riders” is a powerful, harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever.From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives – and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment – for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, “Freedom Riders” features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault's book, “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.”

Says Nelson, "The lesson of the Freedom Rides is that great change can come from a few small steps taken by courageous people. And that sometimes to do any great thing, it's important that we step out alone."

For additional information about this free community event, call the City of New Bedford Human Relations Commission, (508) 979-1464.