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University of Hartford Hosts Film Series to Honor the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Posted 01/21/2013
Posted by David Isgur

To extend its annual Martin Luther King Day celebration into Black History Month, the University of Hartford will continue paying tribute to the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement with a three-part film and discussion series. The series begins on Tuesday, Jan. 29, with the showing of a portion of the documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” and continues on Tuesday, Feb 5, showing “Red Tails”  a film about the Tuskegee airmen, and on Tuesday, Feb. 12, showing the documentary film “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.”

The film series is free and open to the public. It is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on each date in the University’s Konover Campus Center. Each showing will be followed by a discussion led by a University faculty member or senior administrator. Light refreshments will be provided.

Warren Goldstein, chair of the history department in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences and a Martin Luther King scholar, will lead the discussion following “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985.” The complete award-winning 14-hour television series about the Civil Rights Movement was created and executive produced by Henry Hampton (1940-1998), and narrated by Julian Bond. It uses contemporary interviews and historical footage to cover all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1985. The series went won six Emmys and numerous other awards, including an Academy Award nomination. Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to "Black Power" in the streets; from early acts of individual courage through to the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.

Roy Collins, the University’s associate general counsel, will lead a discussion following the showing of “Red Tails,” which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard as Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American United States Army Air Force servicemen during World War II. Based on a true story, the film depicts U.S. military recruits a group of African-American fighter pilots to help reclaim the skies over Europe. Discriminated against both as citizens and as soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen take flight in planes distinguished by distinctive red tails. As a result of their bravery, the pilots emerge as heroes who prove that all men are truly created equal.

Bilal Sekou, associate professor of political science in the University’s Hillyer College, will lead a discussion following the showing of “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” a film by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer. The film chronicles Bayard Rustin's complex, 60-year career as an activist. The film contains rare archival footage, including debates between Rustin and Malcolm X as well as between Rustin and Stokely Carmichael. It relies on Rustin's extensive FBI records as a form of narration. Rustin is best know for his work organizing the historic March on Washington, the biggest protest America had ever witnessed. As an illegitimate son, an African American, a gay man and a one-time member of the Communist Party, Rustin — the ultimate outsider — eventually became a public figure and respected political insider. He not only shaped civil rights movement strategy as a longtime advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., but was known and respected by numerous U.S. Presidents and foreign leaders.

The University of Hartford presented Rustin an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree in 1979. During its 55-year history, the University has honored more than two dozen African-American leaders with honorary degrees, from opera star Marion Anderson in 1958 to champion tennis player Arthur Ashe in 1990 to NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks in 1994, as well as jazz great Dizzy Gillespie in 1982 and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson in 1998. In addition, the University hosted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1959 for an address to the residents of Greater Hartford.