Deon Taylor to Direct ‘Freedom Ride’ Based on John Lewis and the Freedom Riders

Deon Taylor and John Lewis (Handout photo/

Deon Taylor has signed on to direct the upcoming drama Freedom Ride, based on first-person accounts of the Freedom Riders during the civil rights movement, including the late Congressman John Lewis.

The film will be set in 1961 as 20-year-old Lewis and a multiracial group of young activists demand equality and social justice as they fight racial discrimination in the segregated South.

Taylor, whose directing credits include Fatale and Black and Blue, will also be one of the screenwriters along with writers Steven Vosburgh and Dusdi Fissette.

Vosburgh credited Congressman Lewis as providing the project’s initial spark in 2005 when he first began traveling the country recording and compiling the oral histories of over a dozen living Freedom Riders for a documentary. Lewis encouraged Vosburgh to dramatize the story to reach a wider audience.

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Taylor is executive producing the movie with his Hidden Empire Film Group partner Robert F. Smith, along with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and his company, Brooklyn Media.

“John Lewis once said, ‘You are a light. You are the light! Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light’… his words not only resonate with me as human, but inspire me to tell his amazing story,” Taylor said in a statement. “Working with our great partners at The Hideaway Entertainment, INDE Companies and the legendary Benjamin Crump is such a blessing. We are going to create an amazing film and really do John Lewis proud, I promise you!”

“Taylor is the perfect filmmaker for this story,” Crump added. “He has a resonance with the culture that rings authentic for this film.”

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Production on Freedom Ride is expected to begin later this summer in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama according to a press release on the film.

Deon Taylor and Benjamin Crump are represented by UTA and the Artistry Collective. The deal was negotiated by Christian Simonds of Reed Smith, LLP on behalf of The Hideaway Entertainment.

No release date for the film has been announced.