To mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, Virginia Highlands Community College’s Arts Array program will offer “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” a series of four documentary screenings at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va., during the month of February.
Show time is 7 p.m. for each film.
Virginia Highlands Community College is one of a select few institutions across the country awarded a grant to show four films chronicling the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America. The powerful documentaries, “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “The Loving Story” and “Freedom Riders,” include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all.
“Freedom Riders” received an Emmy in 2012, and “The Loving Story” and “The Abolitionists” were nominated for Emmys in 2013.
Each of the films was produced with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.
The film schedule is as follows:
Feb. 4 — “The Abolitionists.” This film vividly brings to life the struggles of the men and women who led the battle to end slavery.
Feb. 11 — “Slavery by Another Name.” Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name, this film tells the stories of men, charged with crimes and often guilty of nothing, who were bought, sold, abused and subjected to deadly working conditions as unpaid convict labor.
Feb. 18 — “The Loving Story.” Mildred and Richard Loving knew it was technically illegal for them to live as a married couple in Virginia, but they never expected to be awoken in their bedroom and arrested one night in 1958.
Feb. 25 — “Freedom Riders.” This film tells the terrifying, moving and suspenseful story of a time when white and black volunteers riding a bus into the Deep South risked being jailed, beaten or killed.
“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,” said Tommy Bryant, VHCC Arts Array film coordinator. “We are pleased to receive a grant from NEH to provide programming around these films. Each year, the Black Film Series is part of our Arts Array programming, and the Created Equal films are perfectly suited to those efforts.”
The Created Equal films and public programs have been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities 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 the sites.
Virginia Highlands Community College will kick off this film series with a celebration at 7 p.m., Jan. 31 in the Keyser-Aday Theatre, located on the VHCC campus. This special kick-off event will highlight the cultural activities that VHCC will sponsor in celebration of Black History Month. The speaker for the event is Dr. Jerry Jones, a professor at Emory & Henry College. He is the author of “Go and Come Again: Four Generations of Black Education in Southwest Virginia.”
Jones will be joined by the Nguzo Saba African American Drum and Dance Company, led by Alice Walker. The company brings the excitement and history of West African drum and dance to all audiences.
The community is invited to attend all of these events, which are free of charge.