Locally Produced Film Tackles Transit Access as Civil Rights Issue

By Brent Warren
Columbus Underground

In 2011 the city of Beavercreek, Ohio refused a request from the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority to extend an existing bus line an additional three stops. What sounds like a minor local news story turned into much more, and a new film documenting the resultant civil rights complaint and the eventual overturning of the Beavercreek city council’s decision is about to make its Columbus premiere.

The film, Free to Ride, was produced in-house by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. It recently won Best Documentary at the DC Independent Film Festival.

“We’re thrilled with the result from DC,” said Matthew Martin, writer/producer of the film and Senior Researcher at the Kirwan Institute. “It’s a story that we think really needs to get out there…it’s a timely and important story, given the state of racial politics in America right now.”

Kirwan’s involvement with the project started as a simple request to produce a series of maps for a group of legal aid attorneys in Dayton. The attorneys, along with a coalition of local community groups, were working to show how the refusal to build the stops impacted different populations.

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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.