The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Hosts Sneak Preview and Discussion of Ric Burns’ Driving While Black

NEW YORK, NY – On Friday, December 7 at 5:30pm, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—committed to strengthening the arts and humanities in higher education for diverse and democratic societies since 1969—will host a special sneak preview and discussion of Ric Burns’ Driving While Black.  The event is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) at 2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Preregistration is required at

This event is the first of an all-new series of film screenings and conversations, which seek to provide a platform for dialogue between award-winning filmmakers, visionary thinkers, and the public on how culture, race, history, and diversity impact America’s past and present.

Based on the groundbreaking research of historian Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Driving While Black explores the role of the automobile in the lives of African Americans during the Jim Crow era of the early twentieth century. Although the general impact of the automobile on American life has been the subject of much scholarly work, its unique social impact on African Americans has never been examined in depth. Driving While Black offers a window onto the complex history of freedom, mobility, and ethnicity in America, while promoting dialogue about identity and equality in the 21st century.

Directed by Ric Burns and produced by Steeplechase Films in association with the State University of New York at Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program, Driving While Black will be broadcast nationally on PBS in the fall of 2019. Production of the documentary is supported in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Following the screening, Independent Curator and Art World Conference Founder and CEO Dexter Wimberly will join Burns and Sorin in a discussion moderated by Lee Bynum, Mellon Foundation senior program associate and associate director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.

Related Event
The programming series continues on Thursday, January 17 at 5:30pm with a screening of the documentary Owned: A Tale of Two Americas. Owned is a fever dream vision into the complex history behind the US housing economy.  The United States’ postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class. It also set America on two divergent paths -- one of imagined wealth, propped up by speculation and endless booms-and-busts, and the other in systematically defunded, segregated communities, where “the American dream” feels hopelessly out of reach. Director Giorgio Angelini joins Mellon Foundation Senior Program Officer Dianne Harris in conversation following the screening.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at

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