“Free To Ride” Documentary Explores A Different Bus Civil Rights Fight

By Clare Roth, WOSU Radio All Things Considered

In 2011, the Dayton  Regional Transport Authority went to the suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio, with a seemingly simple request: add an additional three bus stops to an already existing route.

The city council refused, and what followed was a three-year fight that traversed questions of race, privilege, and access. It’s the focus of a new documentary, Free to Ride, produced by Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Before Matt Martin and Jamaal Bell, researchers at the Kirwin Institute, could recount the fight for equality in Beavercreek, they had to win the fight.

At the time, the organization Leadership for Equality and Action in Dayton (LEAD) argued that, given the respective racial make-ups of Dayton and Beavercreek, refusing to add the bus stops violated the federal Civil Rights Act. That’s when the Kirwan Institute became involved.

Listen to entire interview

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity was established in 2003 as a center for interdisciplinary research at The Ohio State University. The Kirwan Institute works to create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.