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OKCU Hosts Screening of Civil Rights Documentary

Film "I am Not Your Negro"
Film still from “I Am Not Your Negro”

Oklahoma City University will screen a critically acclaimed documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” a film about the Civil Rights movement, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Kerr-McGee Auditorium in Meinders School of Business at N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue. The screening is free to the public.

The documentary was a surprise hit in the spring as it sold out screenings across the U.S. The film intends to help viewers get reacquainted with the words and mind of writer/cultural critic James Baldwin 30 years after his death. OKCU Film Institute director Tracy Floreani said she was amazed at the reception a documentary received on its release, since documentaries don’t often sell out screenings.

“I wanted to provide another opportunity for people in this area to see it—or see it again—and continue the important conversations it started last spring,” she said.

Floreani said that as Baldwin’s ideas about race and American identity seem as relevant now than ever, director Raoul Peck (“Lamumba,” “Sometimes in April”) brings to life his unfinished last book, which was a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

“I don't think film can change the world or film can change the fate of a country—people change the fate of a country,” Peck noted. “But at the same time, I know . . . that film can change a person, because it [catches] you at the right moment and helps you do the necessary change.”

Interweaving Baldwin’s writing with a flood of archival footage, the film confronts the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of the three leaders and representations of African Americans in various national institutions. Ultimately, the film challenges viewers to examine the very definition of what America stands for.

A review in the The New York Times stated, “You would be hard-pressed to find a movie that speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force, insisting on uncomfortable truths and drawing stark lessons from the shadows of history.”

A short discussion will follow the screening for those who wish to stay.

All screenings of the OKCU Film Institute are free to the public, but donations are accepted. The Film Institute is supported by the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund for the University’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature. For more information about all the Center’s programming, visit okcufilmlit.org/.

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