Kirwan Institute’s Documentary “Free To Ride” Opens Friday at Gateway


The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity’s award-winning documentary “Free To Ride” returns to Gateway Film Center Friday, June 23 at 7pm by popular demand. “Free To Ride” made its sold-out official Columbus premiere on April 12 as part of Gateway Film Center’s Ohio Grown Series and returns for a week-long run from June 23-29. For additional showtimes please visit

“Free To Ride” is the story of the relentless spirit of community members from across Dayton, Ohio who overcame a suburban contingent opposed to the expansion of public transit along a commercial corridor, and the system of checks and balances that allowed justice and reason to prevail.

What began as a simple request from a Dayton, Ohio, legal aid attorney for a series of maps designed to show the impact of a city council decision on the region’s African American population has become an award-winning film.

“‘Free to Ride,’ the compelling story of hard-working residents of Dayton, Ohio, fighting for safe, reliable transportation to employment opportunities in the nearby suburb of Beavercreek, demonstrates why transportation equity is a critical civil and human rights issue for our nation,” said President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Wade Henderson. “For decades, metropolitan areas have been expanding outward, and jobs have been moving farther away from low-income people and people of color who disproportionately remain in urban cores. For many of these people, inadequate or unaffordable transportation is a significant barrier to employment. This inspiring narrative will undoubtedly have viewers on their feet, chanting ‘Let the People Ride!’”

On February 17 in front of an energetic and engaged audience, “Free To Ride” made its world premiere at the DC Independent Film Festival. Out of more than 2,000 submissions from around the world, 80 selections including six feature documentaries, “Free To Ride” won best documentary honors for 2017.

“Receiving this award validates the approach that we took to telling this story about an ever sensitive subject,” Matthew Martin, producer of “Free To Ride,” said.  “We didn’t want to make just another sensational film about race in America, but chose to allow the various perspectives in the community to come through in a way that makes everyday local politics come alive.”

Amid growing racial tension in the United States and around the globe, “Free To Ride” shows that peaceful change is possible and provides communities with a film they can use to build meaningful equity movements in their part of the world. By incorporating Kirwan’s interdisciplinary approach to the topics of structural inequality, implicit bias, and civic engagement, the Institute produced a documentary to disseminate its research in a more creative and accessible format.

To learn more about the film and to view trailers visit and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @FreeToRideFilm.