‘America’s Civil Rights Struggle’ the Focus of Discussion, Film Series

Sessions to be held at The College of Wooster’s Wishart Hall in February and April

30 January, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — A provocative discussion and film series designed to encourage reflection about our nation's history of racial and cultural inequality begins next month when The College of Wooster Libraries present "Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle." Each session will begin with an academic perspective on the topic, followed by the film and then a period of open discussion. The sessions will be held in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.).

The series, which is free and open to the public, is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with the NEH as a part of the larger Bridging Cultures programming initiative of the NEH.

Boubacar N'Diaye, professor of Africana Studies and political science at Wooster, will open the series on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m. with a presentation, titled "'Criminalizing Black Life...' Sound Familiar?" After that, the film, Slavery by Another Name, will be shown. This documentary spans eight decades, and convincingly dispels the notion that freedom actually reigned following the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South after the Civil War, trapping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in a brutal system that would persist until World War II. N'Diaye will lead the post-film discussion.

Manisha Sinha, associate professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Massachusetts and author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina, will speak at the second session on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. when she presents "The Abolition Movement and the Origins of American Democracy." Then, the Emmy-nominated film, The Abolitionists, will be shown. The film chronicles the efforts of abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, and Angelina Grimké as they turn an unpopular movement against chattel slavery into one that changed a nation. Sinha will lead the discussion that follows.

Kabria Baumgartner, assistant professor of history at Wooster, will be featured at the third session on Tuesday, April 8, at 6:30 p.m. when she presents "A Loving Story Lives: Sex, Marriage, and the Color Line in America." After her talk, the Emmy-nominated film, The Loving Story will be shown. This documentary captures the moving saga of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia in the late 1950s, and their landmark Supreme Court Case (Loving v. Virginia) that changed history. Baumgartner will then facilitate the conversation at the end of the session.

Jeff Roche, associate professor of history at Wooster will conclude the series with a presentation on Wednesday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m. titled, "Passive Resistance and Massive Resistance: The Nationalization of the Civil Rights Movement." His talk will be followed by the Emmy-winning film Freedom Riders, which chronicles the harrowing journeys of 400 courageous black and white citizens from all strata of society who risked their lives to draw attention to discrimination in interstate travel. Roche will lead the final discussion.

Wooster's Libraries have partnered with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Africana Studies Department, the History Department, and the Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement to sponsor the event. In addition, funds have been provided by the Cultural Events Committee to help with programming for the event. The series is an extension of the 2013 Wooster Forum, titled "Facing Race." Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2315) or e-mail.