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Fall film series to address racial related topics

Racial Harmony and Justice Working Group to host event

With fall weather officially in full swing, it’s not uncommon to spend evenings inside watching movies. That’s why The Racial Harmony and Justice Working Group of Jasper County has organized a free fall film series as a way to ease into an important and sometimes sensitive subject.

The series is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and the public is invited to attend the first Thursday of every month through December at the Newton DMACC auditorium. Jessica Petersen, a representative of the group, said the three films will address a variety of racial-related issues that have occurred or are still occurring in the nation.

“We wanted to show thought-provoking films as a way to educate,” Petersen said. “It’s not going to be an intense program or experience — we wanted to make these films more accessible for folks.”

The October film to be shown is “The Birth of a Nation” the November film to be shown is “Fruitvale Station” and the December film to be shown is “13th”.

“We invite people to come and bring their thoughts and experiences … none of us have this all figured out,” Petersen said. “We want to work together to see a lot of positive changes.”

The group picked the films following research to discover what was relevant and what film would depict an accurate history of slavery.

“We wanted to find an accurate portrayal to history even though you can’t always be 100 percent correct,” Petersen said.

Following each showing of the films, Petersen said there will be an opportunity for discussion and reflection.

“As we go on with each film, we can go into more depth,” Petersen said. “It’s really about paying attention to your daily life and raising awareness of issues of race … even when certain things aren’t happening in Newton it’s important to actively engage in history and improve our community and dismantle racism.”

The working group has been active in Jasper County for two years with a purpose of promoting racial harmony and justice in the county through story sharing, education and addressing institutional systemic racism.

“White privilege is something we need to look at as an issue,” Petersen said. “I think white privilege, in particular, is someone who doesn’t think they have privilege ... if you are white, for example, you are more likely to see someone who looks like you on television.”

According to Petersen, the working group conducted a survey last October to get a sense if there was a need in the county for a justice working group.

“We had a positive response and many who stated it’s a prominently white area, and so we decided to approach this from an education prospective,” Petersen said. “We have approached the high school and principal (Bill) Peters, and we are hoping to come talk to student leaders and administration.”

Peters seemed to show great interest, according to Petersen.

“I encourage people to attend the series with an open mind and be prepared to be challenged with a different perspective,” Petersen said. “This is also an entrance to make connections and we can pull out those interested folks who want to be a part of the group.”

Note: The three films that are set to be shown during the fall film series are all rated “R” or “MA.”

Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or

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