University of Mary Washington will showcase Civil Rights documentary for Black History Month

The University of Mary Washington will honor Black History Month by screening the documentary film, “An Ordinary Hero,” the story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.

By Anjelica Michael

Photo courtesy of Mary Washington University Public Relations.


In honor of Black History Month, the University of Mary Washington will hold a special event to honor the Civil Rights Movement by screening a new documentary entitled, “An Ordinary Hero,” on Monday, Feb. 3, at 7  p.m. This is the story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, who came from a privileged Southern family and joined the Freedom Riders at the age of 19.

The film tells the story of her career of activism and how she played a role in the Civil Rights Movement. Mullholland visited the university in 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom rides, and now she will be back to speak about her experiences after the documentary viewing. 

“It is greatly important for the University to feature the documentary. Her visit brings the issue of the Freedom Rides and in a larger context, the Civil Rights Movement full circle,” said Greta Franklin, associate director of the university’s James Farmer Multicultural Center.

The center’s namesake, James Farmer, was a co-founder of Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE, the organization that coordinated the Freedom Rides during the Civil Rights Movement. Later, Farmer became a Distinguised professor at the university from the late 1980’s until 1998.  

“The Freedom Rides and the Freedom Riders have a special connection to UMW due to James Farmer’s role at UMW,” said Franklin.  

When asked what she hoped students would take away from the documentary, Franklin said, “Most of the Freedom Riders were college-aged students.  We would like for the students to know that they have a lot of influence and power and can use those things to bring about positive changes in their lives and in their communities.”

The university, located in Fredericksburg,  will also have other events throughout the month sponsored by the James Farmer Multicultural Center and the Black History Month Planning committee. Find a quick list of events below, and for more details, check out the calendar of events.


“An Ordinary Hero”
Monday, Feb. 3, 7  p.m.
Lee Hall, room 411
University of Mary Washington
1301 College Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
(540) 654-1000