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Civil rights documentaries to be shown

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 11:33 PM

HUNTINGTON — Learning about past civil rights struggles is the purpose behind the Black History Month programming scheduled at Marshall University’s Drinko Library, said Maurice Cooley, associate vice president for intercultural affairs.

Each Wednesday this month, the library is hosting events centered around civil rights documentaries that are a part of the “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” series, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses documentary films to spark conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America.

Marshall is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded the set of four documentary films — “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story.”

“Many people have not been exposed to this part of history, which is really very important to know,” Cooley said. “(The films) point to the difficulties we’ve had in the past but also they help us embrace where we are now. To some people who’ve not seen them, they would probably be amazed or shocked to know that these types of experiences actually existed.”

“The Abolitionists” and “Slavery by Another Name” were shown last fall. On Wednesday, the library screened the HBO documentary, “The Loving Story,” which tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving and the Supreme Court case that overturned bans on interracial marriage.

Next Wednesday, Feb. 19, the library will screen the PBS documentary, “Freedom Riders,” about the group of activists who challenged segregation in the Deep South.

Chris Hodge, a library technician and senior public relations major at Marshall, said the films shown this month highlight the civil rights movement while the films in the fall focused on the slavery era. To further highlight the civil rights movement, he said he created a display in the third-floor atrium highlighting landmarks of the civil rights movement and the contributions of Huntington’s own Carter G. Woodson as well as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others.

“Black history is American history, it’s local history, it’s Huntington history, it’s West Virginia history,” he said. “It’s important for every individual to honor their past and pave the way for the future.”

The programming will culminate with a reception and discussion at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 in the atrium at the Drinko Library where clips from “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story” will be shown and Cooley will facilitate informal discussions regarding the films.

All programming is free and open to the public, and the community is encouraged to attend.