Today, AACA Museum, Inc. Executive Director Jeffrey Bliemeister announced the debut of a new program in the Museum’s celebration of Black History Month. For the remainder of February, the Museum’s in-house 1950s Drive-In Theater display will show the new PBS documentary, “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America”‘ daily as part of its regular public programming. The ground-breaking documentary filmed by acclaimed historian Dr. Gretcen Sorin, and Emmy-winning director Ric Burns debuted in October of 2020 on PBS. It was produced by Steeplechase Films and is based on Dr. Sorin’s 2020 book, “Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights.”
Bliemeister played a role in the film’s development. He said, “Dr. Sorin is also the Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program for History Museum Studies where I obtained my master’s degree in the field. Her research on this subject is thorough, and the documentary is a timely and powerful statement addressing complex and critical issues that our nation continues to struggle with.” The film explores the history of African Americans on the road. It addresses the dynamics of race, transportation, and freedom in our nation, focusing on the last four decades of Jim Crow up through the present.
“I was contacted by Dr. Sorin before the documentary’s release and had the privilege of previewing it for automotive accuracy,” states Bliemeister. “I was impressed by its content and moved by its message, particularly the in-person interviews. As a historian and leader of a public transportation museum, I wanted to do more to spread this message, which resulted in this collaborative effort.” Permission to show the documentary inside the Museum was obtained from the author, film production company, and PBS. Bliemeister added, “The film is approximately two-hours long. We do not anticipate that many visitors will view it in its entirety while touring the Museum. However, we hope to draw their attention to the subject so they can purchase the book, DVD, or watch the documentary through PBS.”
It is our pleasure to share the story of “Driving While Black.” The Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.