African & African-American Studies program receives NEH grant

The award includes a film set and $1,200 programming stipend to be used to provide scholarly presentations and exhibit four documentaries with new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America.

Elon University’s K. Wilhelmina Boyd Office of African & African-American Studies has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” is an initiative of NEH that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for grantee sites.

The award includes a film set and $1,200 programming stipend to be used to provide scholarly presentations and exhibit four documentaries with new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America.

Faculty members who collaborated on the grant include Jamane Yeager, assistant professor and Belk librarian, who spearheaded the grant initiative; Prudence Layne, associate professor of English and coordinator for African & African-American Studies; and Frances Ward-Johnson, associate professor in the School of Communications who teaches the GST course “Disarming Injustice: Nonviolence and the Civil Rights Movement.”

“These films chronicle the long and sometimes violent effort to achieve the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—for all Americans,” Yeager said. 

The four documentaries – “The Abolitionists”, “Slavery by Another Name”, “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story” – include scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all Americans. “Freedom Riders” received an Emmy in 2012, and “The Loving Story” and “The Abolitionists” have been nominated for Emmys in 2013. 

“We are pleased to receive a grant from NEH to provide programming around these films, which will provide the medium via which the Elon University community can continue its exploration of what history can teach us about the courage and dedication it will take as we continue our quest to achieve true democracy, civil rights and equality for all citizens,” Layne said. 

The award is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative of NEH and the “Created Equal” film sets are being distributed to museums, libraries and community organizations in all 50 states to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S. history and civic life.

“The films and discussions will supplement classroom teachings to help students gain a deeper appreciation of the accomplishments of civil rights activists, and assist them in learning more about the non-violent strategies used to change a nation,” Ward-Johnson added.

Additional screenings and events, particularly in February – April 2014, will be added as they are confirmed. Visit http://www/ for updates.

Taylor Branch, “Myth and Miracles from the King Years”
Date: September 25, 2013
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: McCrary Theatre

Sponsors: The Baird Pulitzer Prize Lecture Series

Author of the landmark trilogy America in the King Years, Branch depicts several watershed moments in civil rights during the time of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Admission: $12 or Elon ID. Tickets available September 1

Film screening and discussion: “Slavery by Another Name”
Date: October 11, 2013
Time: 4:30–6:30 p.m.
Location: Belk Library, Room 206

Even as slavery ended in the south after the Civil War, new forms of forced labor kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II. The film is based on the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same title by Douglas Blackmon and produced and directed by Sam Pollard. It is a production of TPT National Productions, in association with Two Dollars & A Dream, Inc.

Film screening and discussion: “The Abolitionists
Date: January 9 , 2014
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: McEwen 011

A small group of moral reformers in the 1830s launched one of the most ambitious social movements imaginable: the immediate emancipation of millions of African Americans held in bondage, at a time when slavery was one of the most powerful economic and political forces in the United States. Produced and directed by Rob Rapley. Sharon Grimberg, executive producer for American Experience, WGBH.

Patricia J. William, “The Eradication of Prejudice” 
Date: January 23, 2014
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: McCrary Theatre

Sponsors: The Multicultural Center

Columbia Law School Dean Patricia J. Williams has published widely in the areas of race, gender, and law, and on other issues of legal theory and legal writing. Books include “The Alchemy of Race and Rights”, “The Rooster’s Egg”, and “Seeing a Color Blind Future: The Paradox of Race.” She is a columnist for The Nation.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life.

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