The powerful Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” will be shown at a public screening at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the cafeteria at Summit High School, 125 Kent Place Boulevard.
The entire community is invited to attend free. Light refreshments will be served beginning at 6:45 p.m.
The program is sponsored by Fountain Baptist Church and Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit (formerly The Unitarian Church in Summit).
After the screening, Dr. Khalil G. Muhammad, professor of History, Race and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, one of the scholars appearing in the movie, will be moderator of a panel discussion. He will be joined by Professor Johanna Foster, director of the Sociology Program at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, and Rev. Charles F. Boyer, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury, near Camden.
“Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming, (this) documentary will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking,” wrote the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis of the film, which was released last fall. “13th” was written and directed by Ava DuVernay, director of the 2014 film Selma. .
The title “13th” refers to the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which freed the slaves and prohibited slavery, with the exception that involuntary servitude could still be used as punishment for a crime. In the movie, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the U.S. prison boom and the criminalization of African Americans from slavery to mass incarceration in the light of that clause.
Besides Dr. Muhammad, activists featured in “13th” include U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Angela Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Newt Gingrich and others.
The documentary opens with the fact that the U.S., with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated people. It argues that slavery was perpetuated in practice after the American Civil War by the Jim Crow system of segregation and disenfranchisement and, after the Civil Rights Movement, by the war on drugs leading to mass incarceration.
“At Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, we are committed to dismantling racism through education, engagement and advocacy,” said Rev. Robin Tanner, minister of worship and outreach. “The film is a critical lesson in the new Jim Crow and understanding modern slavery.”
After participating together in the ongoing series of Dialogues on Race sponsored by the Summit Interfaith Council, Fountain Baptist joined with the Unitarian congregation last September in a march along Springfield Avenue that culminated in raising Black Lives Matter banners at both buildings. The film showing is being planned by a joint Beyond the Banner team that formed to continue the anti-racism work.
For further information, call Fountain Baptist Church at (908) 273-1199 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the Beacon congregation, go to the website www.ucsummit.org or call the office at (908) 273-3245.