The Litchfield Historical Society, along with the Torrington Historical Society and the League of Women Voters of Litchfield County, are pleased to introduce three documentaries with riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America. These three organizations will offer a series of programs once a month from January–March in 2014.

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the sites.

The Litchfield Historical Society is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. Each film is available on the historical society’s website to view before each formal program led by local humanities scholar. The schedule of films is as follows:

Thursday, January 16, 2014 7:00 pm, Litchfield Historical Society: “Slavery by Another Name”

Join us as Stephen McGrath, Litchfield Historical Society board member and history professor at Central CT State University, kicks off the first film discussion in our series. Steve will feature clips from the to challenge the belief that slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

Thursday, February 20, 2014 7:00 pm, Torrington Historical Society: “The Loving Story”

Our second civil rights film discussion will take place at the Torrington Historical Society. Led by Tom Hogan, former lawyer and legal history professor at UConn, we will take a look at a groundbreaking case that dealt with the legality of interracial marriages. The documentary brings to life the Lovings’ marriage and the legal battle that followed through little-known filmed interviews and photographs shot for Life magazine. Participants will view film clips from the HBO documentary.

Thursday, March 20, 2014  7:00 pm, Litchfield Historical Society: “Freedom Riders”

Litchfield blogger and history professor Pete Vermilyea brings to light the activities of the freedom riders in the last of our film series. Freedom Riders tells the terrifying, moving, and suspenseful story of a time when white and black volunteers riding a bus into the Deep South risked being jailed, beaten, or killed, as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks. The film includes previously unseen amateur 8-mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped, taken by a local twelve-year-old and held as evidence since 1961 by the FBI.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life. Visit for more information.

The Created Equal film set is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

These programs are free and open to the public. Registration is required—please register by calling (860) 567-4501 or emailing

For more information on these programs, please check our website, or call 860-567-4501.