a priest's musings on the journey

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Racial Reconciliation: Apologies, Documentaries, and Dialogue

The North Carolina General Assembly apologized for its role in promoting slavery and Jim Crow laws which denied the basic human rights of African Americans. You can read the story here

Let's pray that this will be more than a gesture and will lead to meaningful racial reconciliation amongst the rich diversity of ethnic groups in North Carolina.

One venue to open up dialogue for racial reconciliation is the Full Frame Documentary Film Fest in Durham, NC from April 12-15. This year there will be a Southern Sidebar featuring several documentaries either set in North Carolina and centered around racial issues, or directed by North Carolinians.

Banished, directed by Marco Williams, plays Saturday 14, at 3:45 pm at the Civic Center Two. The film tells the story of a group of people who are forcibly removed from their homeland. This isn’t the Middle East or ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe, but good old racism in the American South. Banished tells the story of African-American landowners in the early 20th century who were denied their right to live on land that they rightfully owned, and how the descendants of those people seek closure only to be rebuffed by those who claim to want reconciliation. The film finds redemption though, in its belief that the desire for racial harmony and the pursuit of social justice prove much more compelling than the hate found in Harrison, Arkansas, Pierce City, Missouri and Forsyth County (Georgia) a century ago.

The film Greensboro: Closer to the Truth, directed by Adam Zucker, plays Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM in Fletcher Hall. In 1979 members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazis opened fire on a Communist Workers Party rally, killing five protesters and injuring many others in Greensboro, North Carolina. Police assigned to the rally were far away from the scene, and despite damning television footage, no one involved in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre was ever convicted. Twenty-five years later, a variety of witnesses tell their stories, from the Klan Imperial Wizard to the bereaved spouses of the murdered activists. For the survivors, the damage remained all consuming, and in an effort to move forward they shape the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004-2006). In the midst of many who would prefer to ignore the tragic events that happened that day, the commission cultivates new hope for authentic resolution.
Following the screening, a Panel from the Truth and Reconciliation Commisison will lead viewers in a discussion.

Moving Midway tells the story of Film critic and North Carolina native Godfrey Cheshire’s cousin Charlie (aka Pooh) decision to transport the family’s historic Midway Plantation. The monumental decision sparks an engaging reflection on the intricate and vexed relationships to land, home, and heritage. The plantation as icon, myth, and symbol of both Southern gentility and national shame is also a place of beloved family tradition that Cheshire’s mother used to call, “down home.” Not all members of the family necessarily agree with Pooh’s fateful decision and most of them—both alive and dead—have something to say about it. Cheshire’s interest in Midway’s retreat from Raleigh’s urban sprawl becomes sheer fascination with the family story, which winds its way back to British settlers and on through this nation’s most defining period in the antebellum South. By complete chance, Cheshire discovers that only a few degrees of separation link NYU historian Robert Hinton to Midway and the Cheshire family. The unearthed family connections and uprooted Plantation buildings acutely expose the foundations of an exemplary Southern story with particularly local resonance. Directed by Cheshire, the film is screened on Saturday at 12:15 PM at Civic Center One.

I am also interested in seeing For the Bible Tells Me So. Five families struggle with the tension between faith, cultural expectations, and sexual orientation in this illuminating documentary. The filmmaker has crafted an emotional quilt stitched with voices as varied as Dr. James Dobson, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Anita Bryant, Dr. Laurence C. Keene, and Andrew Sullivan. A fascinating cinematic exploration, this film sheds new light on the mercurial nature of biblical interpretations and the diverse philosophies of homosexuality they engender. Prepare for intimate and intensely moving stories that illustrate one of the most highly charged issues of the day. (screening at Noon) and The Monastary, a story of a Danish Castle which was given to the Russian Orthodox Church and transformed into a monastary. It shows Friday at 12:30 in Fletcher Hall.

(check out the full frame website for venue locations and as well as a full schedule).
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:27 PM


Thanks for this great info. I'll share some of it with the diocesan Anti-Racism Committee, which meets Saturday. Interesting that this was also the year that the Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of NC also formally apologized for Episcopal involvement in slavery and in its aftermath in the form of institutionalized racism...

Let's hope that in both cases the words become incarnate in action.
Blogger Jane R, at 8:55 PM  
Amen. Amen. The Institution of the Church remains broken by racism, sadly. Thank you for your work with the Diocesan Anti-Racism Committee... My thoughts are with you with prayers for a fruitful meeting.

Blogger PadreRob+, at 9:46 PM  
Thank you for your prayers. We need them. It's a great committee, wonderful people, so that part is fine. But change takes a long time, as you know, and I find these days that the over-busy-ness of life hampers our best intentions and efforts -- at least mine, let me speak just for myself. I'm just having one of those "contemplative spaces are scarce and I don't like this" weeks :-( I think contemplation and social justice are deeply bound together, so I always feel the justice work suffers when the meditative times and spaces disappear.

I really appreciate your prayers!
Blogger Jane R, at 11:00 PM  
You know, Rob, I don't know much about racism in the US, but here, I've just read an article that said that only 5% of all Roman Catholic bishops are black and mixed, while 45% of the population is black and mixed.

So, this is a worldwide problem that, sadly, our children will still feel.
Blogger Luiz Coelho, at 11:24 AM  

Add a comment