Four Freedom Riders are ready to give their first-hand accounts of civil rights history, and Kansas City residents can hear them in one of three free sessions.

The Freedom Riders challenged segregation and discrimination in the American South during the 1960s. The riders, often both Black and White activists, traveled on interstate buses throughout the south to protest against segregated transportation facilities. They often faced violent opposition, including physical attacks, arrests, harassment, and at least one bus bombing by the KKK.

The visiting four Freedom Riders: Dion Diamond, Joan Browning, Dr. Lenora Taitt-Magubane, and Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., come to town to share their experiences challenging segregation across the American South. 

There are three separate opportunities for you to interact with these historic activists. The first takes place on Apr. 20 at the Kauffman Foundation at noon. Later that evening a second panel discussion will be had at 7 p.m. at the GEM Theater. The following night, Apr. 21, UMKC hosts a third freedom rider panel discussion from 6 to 7:30 p.m.that will be moderated by Dr. Carmaletta Williams, Chief Executive Officer of the Black Archives of Mid-America. 

All three panel discussions are free and open to the public. Those unable to attend an in-person can watch a live stream of the event at UMKC the night of Apr. 21. 

About the Freedom Riders

Dr. LaFayette was one of the primary organizers of the Selma voting rights movement. He’ll likely share insights from his new memoir “In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma.” 

Dion Diamond, who conducted sit-ins as a teenager, was arrested for “breach of peace” after participating in a Freedom Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi.

Joan Browning was one of only nine southern women who joined the Freedom Rides, will share her experiences in the movement, including being the “last Freedom Rider.” 

Dr. A. Lenora Taitt-Magubane, was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and participated in sit-ins and was involved in the Albany, Georgia Freedom Riders.

The Freedom Rides were organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1961. The activists’ goal was to desegregate interstate travel facilities, including buses and bus terminals, throughout the United States. The Freedom Riders brought national attention to the issue of segregation and helped bring about changes in federal law and policy.

Kaufman Center Freedom Riders Panel

April 20, 2023

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Brookside Room

4801 Rockhill Rd

Kansas City, MO

Register for free admission here:

GEM Theater Freedom Riders Panel

April 20, 2023

7 p.m.

1601 E. 18th St

Kansas City, Missouri

Register for free admission here: 

UMKC Freedom Riders Panel

April 21, 2023

6 to 7:30 p.m.

Pierson Auditorium 

5000 Holmes St

Kansas City, Missouri

Register for free admission here:


Livestream the Apr. 21 event here: