HOLYOKE — In celebrating Black History Month, the Holyoke Library will host a screening of a film and discussions led by the Consortium’s Anit-Oppression Committee in their “It’s Going to Be All Right” event.

The hybrid event will be on Feb. 7 from 4-7:30 p.m. inside the library’s first floor community room, a screening of “Eyes on the Prize II” by Sam Pollard will be shown and afterwards a discussion will be led by Heather Z. Caldwell, associate professor at Westfield State University in the ethnic and gender studies department. Caldwell is an educator and cultural historian who teaches in the fields of history, Black Studies and Women Studies.

The event aims to create discussion on the importance of the civil rights movement then and in our current day. The Consortium creates conditions in which people who have faced marginalization, oppression, or otherwise felt invisible are better able to pursue their dreams and strengthen communities through voice, choice and inclusion.

Member of the Consortium Rev. Gregory Jones spoke to Reminder Publishing about the event and said the groups commitment to social justice and being an anti-racist organization led to this event as they like to promote “voice, choice and inclusion.”

“Part of that is part of our mission statement as well as our vision statement. It started back in 2016 and out of all that we had organized a group called the Anti-Oppression Committee and that’s made up of 12 community members who are either volunteer or staff who work along with the Consortium,” Jones said.

Through this committee, many events such as this upcoming one are hosted to promote discussion and education around different topics in social justice. Jones said their last event was honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, where a film was shown before discussion took place.

“We viewed a film called ‘The Colony,’ and it was really a good discussion around what are the benefits and then what are some of the liability’s as it relates to Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of the United States,” Jones said. “It was a real heavy, real good discussion and we bring things like that.”

For this upcoming event itself, Jones said it is still in line with the committee’s commitment to bring awareness as it relates to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“We wanted to go ahead and highlight the importance of not only Black History month and what it stood for, but what civil rights has done back then and how important civil rights are even in present day,” Jones said. “With everything going on in the world, it’s just so important that people are seen and heard. Regardless of their background, nationality, where they come from, what they look like, who they choose to love, the bottom line is being treated with human dignity and respect.”

Jones said “Eyes on the Prize II” was voted on by the committee to be the film screened and that it was a great choice to base discussion on. He added director of the film, Sam Pollard, is a Black man and his film was done in reference to the civil rights movement and how it got started, moving up to almost present day highlighting key figures over the years.

Jones said the film highlights Dr. Martin Luther King’s work but also takes a unique approach and digs into King’s much more radical beliefs that are less spoken about five decades after his death.

“One of the key things is that Martin Luther just didn’t bring non-violent protests, but he talked about economic empowerment, talked about creating the Poor People Campaign. That was one of his ideas moving forward after he came out of the ‘I have a dream’ speech,” Jones said. “I think there are a lot of nuances to the civil rights movement that people don’t really highlight or that they don’t particularly care to talk about, other than the non-violent march because if you’re nonviolent that tickles your funny bone, but if you’re radical you’re considered an extremist or whatever. But like the Beastie Boys said, ‘You gotta fight for your right to party.’ You gotta stand up for what you believe in, or you may fall for anything.”

Jones said forums like this event create learning opportunities for the public and the often-thoughtful discussions that come from it that shine lights on ideas or arguments often drowned out for the more general and well-known ones.

One important thing Jones hopes the event can also highlight is the importance of women and their role in the civil rights movement, specifically Black women. Jones said securing Caldwell for the event was important for this point and discussion from the discussion. The event will also be moderated by a female staff member of the Consortium.

“I made sure she [Caldwell] was the one who was going to facilitate it. We’re really trying to put the emphases and importance on not just civil rights,” Jones said. “The takeaway is we hope that we can bring a little bit more awareness to people who might not know. We know what we know, and we know what we don’t know.”

Jones added, “The Anti-Oppression Committee and the Consortium really tries to stand for bringing awareness, dialogue, to learn how to have a learning conversation, and to be able to be authentic, open and honest about the facts. This is not about people’s feelings, these are facts. No matter how hard you try and hide it, it is what it is.”

To register for this free event open to the public, visit http://www.wmtcinfo.org.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts