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Film Festival Celebrates the Life and Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted on February 20, 2019 in Community Highlight

The residents at Pennswood Village recently held a film festival that spanned several nights to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Timed to be viewed around his birthday, the film festival showcased three films that explored King’s life or other themes in the fight for racial equality. The films acted as a catalyst, sparking conversations among residents about race issues and potential ways to become allies in the struggle to live up to our nation’s ideals of justice for all.

Pennswood Village residents are proud advocates of racial equality, with several different committees dedicated to peace, equality, and social justice. The event was organized by residents on the Peace and Social Justice Committee and the Quakerism Committee, two groups that work for peace and equality in all capacities.

“He’s such a role model for the struggle for equality,” says Lynne Waymon, Chairperson for the Peace and Social Justice Committee, regarding Dr. King. “He had much to teach us about non-violence, the civil rights movement and how we can advocate for the civil rights of all.  The small group discussions in the Café after each film are such a good way to get to know fellow residents and talk about how we can turn concern into action and live up to the values we espouse.   

“Notes from the Field”

The first movie, “Notes from the Field,” was shown on January 16, a few days before Dr. King’s birthday. It is a startling film that introduces 18 different characters – all played by Anna Deavere Smith. Each character is a person who has in some way been touched by America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes underprivileged, minority youth out of the classroom and into incarceration (source), such as a guard, an inmate, a family member, an educator and a politician, among others.

The film was originally produced as a stage performance, and then it was translated into film to reach a wider audience. Released just last year, the film offers a very relevant perspective on mass incarceration. Following the showing, residents who watched the film gathered in the café to share their reactions and reflections with one another.

“King in the Wilderness”

On January 21, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, residents gathered to watch the second of the three films, “King in the Wilderness.” This film, also released just last year, focused on the last 18 months of Dr. King’s life. It features never-before-seen footage of King and people who were close to him throughout his life. The film is a historical presentation of how he refused to back away from civil rights challenges, despite the pressure from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Instead, Dr. King focused on opposition efforts of the Vietnam War and economic inequality. Following this film, residents also gathered to hold a discussion about their personal takeaways.

“The Passion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Dr. Peniel E Joseph

The final film, “The Passion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: How the King assassination continues to shape American democracy,” was shown on January 23. The film is a lecture by Dr. Peniel E. Joseph, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin, and award-winning author and scholar. As the name suggests, Joseph explores how King’s assassination still plays a part in shaping American politics and how it affects racial inequality today. Joseph’s work focuses on the Black Power Movement, as well as the Civil Rights Movement, and he has written several books on the subject.

This film festival is just one of many examples of how Pennswood residents celebrate diversity and fight for social justice. To learn more about life at Pennswood Village, give us a call at 215-504-1118, or visit us online here to request your free information kit!