Yesterday, I spent five hours at the Created Equal event at Zinema 2. Below, I have links to the videos, if you want to watch from home.
The first documentary up was Freedom Riders and it was for me a reminder of how short the time is distancing us from segregation. So many of the participants were still alive, the landmarks still recognizable. This world that-was is still our world, in so many ways. There were about 45 people, maybe a few more, as some left early, before I could totally count, for this movie.
Next, Slavery by Another Name opened me up to a history of what can only be called human rights abuses, enforced labor through legal gimmicks, and genuine practices of slavery that took advantage of the fact that slavery was unconstitutional, but there were no laws in many states that left post-Civil War slaveholders open to prosecution. You don’t get jail time for breaking the constitution if there isn’t a matching law, as I understand it, in some states. There were at least 50 of us for this event, only about ten, at most, who stayed for both films.
Duluth News-Tribune editor Robin Washington was the featured speaker at 6:30 p.m. Robin’s greatest assets as a speaker are, for example, the wealth of knowledge he brings — he has forgotten more about Civil Rights than I have ever learned. It is in the web of connections he can invoke — everyone in Duluth recognizes him and the work he does, and they participate in his work as he calls on them, in presentations like this one. And, it is in his commitment to interactivity. Last night, we were all Robin’s students, and it was an immense learning experience.
Sponsored by Lake Superior College’s Erickson Library in conjunction with LSC’s Intercultural Center, Zeitgeist Arts, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kathryn A. Martin Library, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
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.