Baylor Co-Sponsors Series in Washington D.C. on Race and Film

February 14, 2018
Race and Film Series

Media contact: Baylor Media Communications, (254) 710- 1961
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WACO, Texas (Feb. 14, 2018) — Before his death in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remarked that while the nation had come “a long, long way” in its quest for racial justice, it still had a long, long way to go. As the nation prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s death in spring 2018, Baylor University and the Austin Film Festival will co-sponsor a three-part series — “A Long, Long Way: Race and Film” — Feb. 16-17 at Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

The series will explore race and film through two critically acclaimed movies: "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner" (1968) and "Get Out" (2017). Scholars, theologians and film critics will consider how film has been both a divisive and unifying medium, and how it offers unique opportunities to launch substantial conversations about race and prejudice.

“When white supremacists show up on the streets of Charlottesville, they're chanting slogans that were planted in the American psyche by movies like "Birth of a Nation" (1915). But at its best, Hollywood has allowed filmmakers from ethnic and cultural groups to speak for themselves and show their experience to all of us,” said Greg Garrett, Ph.D., professor of English at Baylor University and a featured panelist during the series. “When we watch "Get Out," all of us are invited into the same horrific experience. That's why conversations about these stories can be so meaningful. It's important to identify the noxious myths about race and to celebrate the compassionate ones.”

The series will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, with a screening of "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner" in the Cathedral Nave. Now in its 50th anniversary year, "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner" represents a milestone in American film. A panel discussion exploring the historical context and impact of this film will be held before and after the screening.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, a workshop will explore in greater detail the two films, made nearly 50 years apart. Panelists and participants will more deeply interrogate stereotypes and tropes and compare the narratives in each film. In part, the goal of the workshop will be to prepare participants to watch the evening screening with greater attentiveness to questions of narrative and context.

The series will conclude with a screening and discussion about "Get Out" at 6:30 p.m. in the Cathedral Nave. Oscar-nominated "Get Out" offers a challenging alternative to Friday’s film. Covering similar territory (a young African American man meeting his white girlfriend’s parents), this film is rated R (for violence, bloody images and language including sexual references) and classified as a horror/mystery/thriller. Saturday’s panel discussion will focus on race, film and current culture.

Joining Garrett as panelists are Korva Coleman, a newscaster for NPR; Lenika Cruz, associate editor at The Atlantic, where she writes about film and culture; The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Seminary and the Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral; Vann Newkirk, a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he has covered health policy, civil rights, voting rights, environmental justice, race and class in American politics, and the evolution of black identity; and The Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, professor and dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C.

Theologian in Residence at the American Cathedral in Paris and a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church, Garrett writes about the ways literature and culture help people discover meaning. He said the topic of this series is important because for the last hundred years American film has carried our most potent myths — harmful and hopeful — about race and prejudice.

“I'm so proud that Baylor has sponsored this program at Washington National Cathedral, and so pleased that the response has been so positive,” Garrett said. “I can't wait to watch 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' and 'Get Out' in the Cathedral Nave with a thousand new friends, and then to talk about these movies onstage with theologians, critics and writers who focus on race, politics and culture.”

The series has received much attention and is already sold out. For more information, visit the Washington National Cathedral website.

by Joy Moton , student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.