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'Freedom Summer' to screen at Little Rock Juneteenth Celebration

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity invite the public to a free preview screening of "American Experience: Freedom Summer" as part of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 21, at 1 p.m.

"Freedom Summer," from award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson ("Freedom Riders," "The Murder of Emmett Till"), tells the story of 10 hot and deadly weeks during the summer of 1964. During this period, more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African-Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in the nation's most segregated state - Mississippi.

With the nation's eyes riveted on their efforts, these dedicated volunteers worked together to canvas for voter registration, create Freedom Schools and establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, all in hopes of challenging the segregationist state Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City. From the beginning, the campaign was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches and the bombing of 70 homes and Freedom Houses.

The screening will be held in the third-floor auditorium of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 West Ninth Street, Little Rock. Refreshments will be served. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

The screening is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. Anyone interested in reserving a seat for the screening should RSVP to the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity at bit.ly/1vtcXC0.

"Freedom Summer" will premiere on AETN as part of "American Experience" Tuesday, June 24, at 8 p.m.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's observation of Juneteenth commemorates the holiday with a variety of activities designed to celebrate freedom and the rich history and culture of African-Americans in Arkansas. In addition to the "Freedom Summer" screening and discussion panel, the 2014 Juneteenth street festival celebration will feature a wide range of family-friendly activities, including various speakers, poets and live music. Additional information about the Juneteenth activities may be found at mosaictemplars.com/juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, rejoicing erupted in Galveston, Texas, when the news broke that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had become official on Jan. 1, 1863, news of its enactment did not reach Galveston for two-and-a-half years. The jubilation that followed the announcement sparked a tradition of celebration that is now observed in cities across America by people of all races. In Arkansas, Juneteenth is traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday of June.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, is dedicated to telling the history of African-Americans in Arkansas from 1870 to the present, especially in the areas of politics, business and the arts.

The Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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