On November 16th, 2017, the Boxser Diversity Initiative presented “The Freedom Riders; Their Relevancy Today” on the campus of New College of Florida. This panel discussion was preceded by a performance of the Booker High School “Jet Stream” vocal group and a short film tribute produced by Manatee Educational Television.
The panel featured Dr. Ray Arsenault who was the author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice which was the basis of the award winning PBS program of the same name. The panel also included Ellen Ziskind, an original freedom rider who was imprisoned in the infamous Parchman Prison in Mississippi for her activity as a freedom rider. The final panel member was Dr. Michael Jeffries, author, lecturer and Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College. The panel was moderated by Judge Charles E. Williams, Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit.
The sold out event celebrated the legacy of the 1961 Freedom Riders and contrasted that movement with the modern movements for social justice and racial equality.