Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series
Gretchen Sorin, Ric Burns (moderator), special guest to be announced
Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 6 pm ET | Free


Presented LIVE on Zoom

In anticipation of PBS’s re-airing of the documentary Driving While Black, which premiered in October 2020, acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns is joined by historian and author Gretchen Sorin for a discussion illuminating how the automobile transformed the African American experience in the early-to-mid-20th century and beyond. Discover how this film came together as well as the important subject matter it explores, including how the advent of the automobile offered a newfound sense of freedom while further exposing Black travelers to discrimination and violence on the road. This film provides historical context for the systemic racism that persists in society today.

We invite you to watch the full documentary Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America, available to stream on, here.

Gretchen Sorin, the director and Distinguished Service Professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, is the author of Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil RightsRic Burns (moderator), founder of Steeplechase Films, is an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and writer and a trustee of the New-York Historical Society. Dr. Sorin and Mr. Burns are co-writers and co-directors of Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America. Special guest to be announced.


This virtual program is offered free of charge. Advance reservation is required to guarantee participation.

By phone: Contact New-York Historical’s in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily.
Online: Click on the orange “Reserve Tickets” button at the top of this page.

To request Chairman's Council tickets, or to inquire about the Chairman's Council, email

Registration by phone closes at 3 pm the date of the program. Online registration closes at the program start time.


This program will be presented live via Zoom, an easy-to-use video conferencing platform.

The day before the program, a member of New-York Historical’s staff will contact all registered attendees from the email address with instructions on how to join the virtual program. An additional reminder will be sent within two hours of the program start time. If you do not receive a message, please check your spam folder.


Advance reservation is required to guarantee participation. Programs and dates may be subject to change.

Creative: Tronvig Group