Ohio Civil Rights Doc ‘Free to Ride’ Comes to Gateway

By Hope Madden, Columbus Underground,

Bussing has been an issue of civil rights from the beginning, but is there still social relevance in the topic?

Jamaal Bell of The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute says yes.

Along with producer/writer Matt Martin, Bell made the documentary Free to Ride. His film explores a precedent-setting achievement. Simply installing three bus stops between Dayton and Beavercreek, Ohio made history.

In 2012, attorney Ellis Jacobs contacted the Kirwan Institute. He enlisted their help to put together materials needed for a complaint he intended to file with the Federal Highway Administration.

Kirwan is an applied research institute out of OSU. According to their website, the institute collaborates with organizations and communities to “Think creatively and critically about race and ethnicity and their connection to issues affecting opportunity.”

According to Bell, Director of Communications at Kirwan, “We provide research to community partners – research about their communities, specifically.”

The population of Beavercreek is less than 5 percent African American, while Dayton’s population is about 40 percent African American.

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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.