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Afro World Club uses film to examine society and leads discussion on overcoming prejudice

A lady dressed in black waves her hand as she dances, with another dancer in the background.

The Afro World Club members said they wanted to utilize the power of film to convey the stark reality of oppression against blacks and to honor the strength within those who have fought against prejudice, like central historical figure Harriet Tubman. The club showed the film "Harriet" during a Film Forum on Feb. 19 in the Little Theater.

Club President of the Afro World Club Toni Shipp, a junior from California studying communications, said, “There are still issues and racial tension throughout the nation, yet we push forward recognizing what happened in history. Implementing these visuals provides a way to open everyone’s mind and learn to accept each other, regardless of differences in background or color.”

Shipp continued, “[The movie] ‘Harriet’ was a perfect choice. It’s still pretty new. It talks about an influential figure, but the film allows for some interesting interpretation and reflection.

“Films like this are important, especially today since race is, for some reason, still such a touchy subject for a lot of people.”

Anagail Ellis, a freshman from North Carolina studying biomedical science, led the discussion with Shipp after the film. She said by watching “Harriet” she realized how far America has come, yet how far there is to go.

The Afro World Club unites the cultures within the Africa Diaspora, which is the dispersion of peoples from Africa who historically have been separated, explained Shipp. “We include all cultures who have African ancestry– Afro Latinos, African Americans, Africans, Afro Caribbeans, etc.”

Not only was Harriet Tubman discussed at this film forum, but also the female director of “Harriet,” Kasi Lemmons, was honored for her work and representation of female directors before the film started.

Olive Yuen, a freshman from Singapore studying communications, discussed the importance of gender equality. “Having the female perspective and a voice for that perspective allows for certain messages to get through that sometimes are otherwise missed through a male lens."

Shipp said, Seeing women directors "needs to be normalized. Girls need to be able to see others like them doing something that’s typically predominantly male."

For those contemplating whether to attend future film forums, the students at the “Harriet” film said they agreed films serve a larger purpose than mere entertainment.

Ellis shared, “Film forums are important for people to portray different beliefs, cultures and diversity. They do this by opening up the minds of any and every audience to experience, learn and understand what is occurring, whether that be around the world or in their backyard.”

Shipp said students won’t regret their experience going to a film forum. “I think watching films and having an open discussion about what they’ve made us feel helps us become better critical thinkers and opens us up to a variety of ways of thinking.”

Film Forums are held once a month in the Little Theater and are accompanied by food and a discussion.