The Langston Hughes Center at Kansas University is offering a series of film screenings, lectures and forums focused on four films chronicling the history of the struggle for civil rights in the United States to help spur dialogue of racial issues in the country.
The Langston Hughes Center is a part of 473 institutions across the country awarded the documentaries, “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story,” which include dramatic scenes from the 150-year effort for equal rights.
The screenings and programming is part of an the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” an initiative that uses documentary films to prompt community discussion of America’s civil rights history.
Shawn Leigh Alexander, associate professor of African and African American studies at KU, says open discussions of race and racial issues are important for modern society.
“Even though we can say we have an African American president, we’re not a post-racial society,” Alexander said. “We must understand how race continues to operate in American society and what we can do to come to grips with it.”
The Langston Hughes Center program, co-sponsored locally by the Dole Institute of Politics, Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, and the Department of African & African American Studies, began this month with screenings of “Slavery by Another Name.” The next screening will occur at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive.
To complement the film, Alexander will present the lecture, “Worse than Slavery: Race, Violence, and the Defining of the Nation in Post-Emancipation America” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area of the Carnegie Library, 200 W. 9th St.
Alexander said providing a lecture alongside the films helps generate a meaningful dialogue.
“We hope people will watch the films, go home and think about the issues, come back to hear the lecture, then start a meaningful dialogue in their homes and communities,” Alexander said.
The program will continue in March with screenings of the 2012 Emmy award winner, “Freedom Riders,” at 2:30 p.m. March 3 and 10 at the Dole Institute and 7 p.m. March 3 and 11 in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area of the Carnegie Library.
KU’s Clarence Lang will deliver the accompanying lecture, “The Congress of Racial Equality, the Freedom Riders, and the Early Civil Rights Movement,” at 7:30 p.m. March 27 in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area of the Carnegie Library.
The Langston Hughes Center program will feature the 2013 Emmy-nominated films, “The Loving Story” and “The Abolitionists” in September and October.
The Langston Hughes Center program is made possible through a grant from the NEH as part of its “Bridging Cultures” initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. For more information on the films and the national project, visit http://createdequal.neh.gov/.