Story By: Joshua Chenault, Staff Writer
The four years of discord between the Greater Dayton RTA and the City of Beavercreek was spotlighted at the Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival.
Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race premiered its feature-length documentary, “Free To Ride” on Jan. 17 in D.C.
The Kirwan Institute is no stranger to successful historical works. Kirwan’s previous documentary, “A Reading From The Letter from Birmingham Jail,” centering around the famous letter from Martin Luther King Jr. which argued that people have a moral responsibility to defy prejudice laws, was a propeller to the creation of their current film, according to producer Matthew Martin.
“Having come off the first film, we just kind of thought, what if we made a documentary,” says Martin. “It has all of Kirwan’s work in it. Access to opportunity, implicit bias, structural inequality and racism. We thought it was a powerful and timely story.”
The film follows the Leadership for Equality and Action in Dayton’s four-year battle to gain access to jobs and education in the Beavercreek area through public transportation routes. The organization also known as LEAD submitted a civil rights complaint alleging that the stops near Wright State University were not enough for passengers.
People riding RTA weren’t capable of getting to and from jobs at the Fairfield Commons Mall and along Pentagon Boulevard without dangers. Additionally, students attending Clark State Community College and ITT Tech were unable to safely get to classes.
Martin says, “[LEAD] found out that people were actually getting off of the end of the bus route at Wright State and walking over that really dangerous 675 overpass to get to jobs.”
Following the first showing of the documentary in D.C., Martin said the film was well received by viewers. Furthermore, Martin revealed that RTA CEO Mark Donaghy was in attendance, he also provides commentary throughout the movie. Just like the rest of the audience, Donaghy enjoyed the film.
“The Kirwan Institute has produced a complete documentary of this story in the truest sense, which now serves as a training tool for communities as they deal with access and growth issues related to public transportation,” said Donaghy in a statement. “While it was a difficult time for our community I am pleased that our story can have a positive purpose going forward.”
The feud between RTA and the City of Beavercreek ceased in 2013, when the council approved multiple bus stops along Pentagon Boulevard and the Mall at Fairfield Commons. Access to transportation near Clark State and ITT Tech was negotiated as well. Buses began routing in this area at the top of 2014.
While the movie has only seen the light of day in D.C., Ohio residents interested in seeing “Free To Ride” can catch the documentary on Apr. 11 at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus. For more information visit kirwaninstitue.osu.edu/freetoride.
Story Edited By: General Assignment Editor Julian Anguiano