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BHM Films Capture 'Resistance'

BHM Film Festival
February 21, 2023

SBARCM: Students 'Surprised' by Alabama's Role in 'The Struggle'

Alabama A&M University students were very receptive to the showing of two films selected in observance of Black History Month by the State Black Archives Research Center & Museum (SBARCM) on Friday, February 17, according to Dr. Brandon Owens, SBARCM director.

SBARCM staff selected “Lowndes County and the Race to Black Power” (2022) and “Emancipation” (2022).  The first film focuses on 1960s activism within an Alabama county during the fight by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for voting rights, as well as black power.  “Emancipation” stars Will Smith as a runaway slave escaping Louisiana for freedom.

"Students were not only shocked, but surprised, to learn that the true and original meaning of 'Black Power' came from a local campaign of citizens in Alabama and student activists who faced violence and oppression in the struggle for the right to vote (Lowndes County)," noted Dr. Owens.  "One of the film's contributors, Arthur Nelson, and Dr. Stacy Carter, AAMU political science professor, led a great discussion about the importance of black representation and participation in politics and the political process not only in Alabama, but across the United States."

The discussion further highlighted the perseverance and determination of residents who faced violence, harassment, retaliation, and even eviction from their homes just to gain the right to vote in a county made up of 80% African Americans in the 1960s, recalled Dr. Owens.  The discussion leaders also challenged students to register and be ready to vote in every election, from their local school board to the President of the United States. 

The SBARCM director said students reacted similarly to the showing of "Emancipation."  

"Students were surprised to learn about the important role runaway slaves played in the Union Army's success during the Civil War," said Owens. He added that the post-film discussion, led by social work professor Elizabeth Langford-Ford, "evoked thought-provoking questions and helped our students delve deeper into the concept of Black Resistance."  Students also acknowledged that "things have changed for the better," but there is still a need "to fight the good fight of faith for freedom and equality in America."

"The Inaugural Black History Month Film Festival was a great success, thanks to film producers, film contributors, and AAMU professors who either participated in post-film discussions or brought their classes to learn about 'Black Resistance in Alabama and Beyond' - the theme for the day," commented Dr. Owens.  "We look forward to building off of this momentum and planning the second annual event during next year's Black History Month. We want to not only engage AAMU students, but also attract citizens from across the state of Alabama. Within the next three years, we plan to expand to an actual theater for two days with more films and more effective ways of teaching students and the public about the dynamic history of African Americans in our state."  

For additional information about the film festival and/or future SBARCM activities, contact