Before the Freedom Riders: The Fight to Integrate Glen Echo Park
Press Release · Thursday, May 3, 2018

Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m., the National Archives presents a special program: “Before the Freedom Riders: The Fight to Integrate Glen Echo Amusement Park.”  This event will feature the screening of exclusive, advance clips from a new documentary by Ilana Trachtman on this issue titled: Ain’t No Back to a Merry-Go-Round (2019), followed by a discussion with Trachtman and former protesters Esther Ridpath Delaplaine, Joanne “Rocky” Delaplaine, and Helene Wilson Ageloff.  Presented in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.

The event will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.  Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.  This public program is free to the public, but reservations are recommended and can be made online.

Ain’t No Back to a Merry-Go-Round (2019), Emmy award–winning filmmaker Ilana Trachtman’s documentary in progress, is a feature length documentary film about a a little-known and groundbreaking story of the integration of Glen Echo Amusement Park.  During the the “summer of protest” of 1960, just miles from the U.S. Capitol, a newly-formed organization of Howard University students sat down on Glen Echo Amusement Park’s historic, whites-only carousel. They were joined by a largely Jewish community of civil servants, labor organizers, and young families from Maryland’s Bannockburn community. Together, this unprecedented coalition took on the park owners, Jim Crow, the American Nazi Party, and the Supreme Court, and produced eight of the 1961 Freedom Riders.  Eight surviving protesters tell their stories, exploring how following this first impulse to activism transformed their lives.

Ilana Trachtman is an Emmy award-winning documentary director/producer. For over twenty years, she has created programs for numerous networks including PBS, HBO FAMILY, ABC-TV, SHOWTIME and the SUNDANCE channel. Ilana believes that individual stories, carefully told, have transcendent power to inspire compassion, action, and community-building. Her topics have ranged from the legacy of slavery in Latin America to Gulf coast shrimpers; glassblowing for at-risk youth to transgender parents.

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. For upcoming programs, visit the Calendar of Events online:


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For media inquiries, please contact: National Archives Public and Media Communications at (202) 357-5300 or via email at

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This page was last reviewed on May 17, 2018.
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