Join the Lecture Series, "The Birth of a Nation: Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition"

The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) of the American Library Association (ALA), The United Nations Remember Slavery Programme, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and BazanED invite libraries to participate in a nationwide lecture series and community-building initiative, "The Birth of a Nation: Slavery, Resistance & Abolition." The series is in observance of the 185th Anniversary of Turner's Rebellion, as well as the United Nations' International Day for the Remembrance of The Slave Trade and its Abolition, observed annually (since 2007) on August 23 (rememberslavery.un.org). 

The series was inspired by actor and director Nate Parker's film The Birth of a Nation, commemorating the duration of the slave rebellion launched by the film's subject, Nat Turner on August 21, 1831 through his capture on October 30, 1831. Commit your library to host a lecture between August 21-October 30, 2016. 

Libraries are invited participate in the lecture series. Participation includes sponsoring a public event that will feature a local educator or historian addressing the topic of slavery, resistance and abolition, and will provide an opportunity for communities to engage in a timely and coordinated national discussion. Resources are available at BazanEvents.com to help libraries plan, promote and execute their lecture. 

Register your event at BazanEvents.com for easy public access that will list your event as part of the national initiative. This site also provides resource materials, including an event planning guide, and sample press release, plus, The Birth of a Nation major motion picture discussion guide, photographs, and video assets.

Libraries and organizations that have already committed to participate in the lecture series include:

  • Amistad Research Center at Tulane University (Louisiana)
  • Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (Colorado)
  • Boca Raton Public Library (Florida)
  • Chicago Public Library (Illinois)
  • Detroit Public Library (Michigan)
  • Farmingham State University (Massachusetts)
  • Houston Public Libraries (Texas)
  • Howard University Libraries and the Department of History (Washingon D.C.)
  • Kyle Public Library (Texas)
  • New Orleans Public Library (Louisiana)
  • Providence Public Library (Rhode Island)
  • Roosevelt Public Library (New York)
  • Salem State University (Massachusetts)
  • St. Louis Public Library  Julia Davis Branch (Missouri)
  • Skyway Library (Washington)
  • Union College Libraries (New York)
  • University of Maryland in College Park (Maryland)
  • West Orange Public Library in West Orange (New Jersey)
  • The Zemi Foundation (Florida)

Nate Parker, the film's writer, director and star, shared his excitement about the collaboration: "Above all, I want The Birth of a Nation to inspire audience members to recognize and resist unjust systems domestically and abroad. That they will be activated toward using their occupational platforms to combat oppression wherever it lives. This speaker series is a great way to engage local communities in an honest discussion about slavery and its legacy in America. The hope is that this honest confrontation with our past will galvanize our society toward understanding, healing, and systemic change."

Fox Searchlight will release The Birth of a Nation on October 7, 2016. The company acquired the film at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it received rave reviews and won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Jody Gray
Director
jgray@ala.org
Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services
American Library Association
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