ARTS & CULTURE
“Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance” is a film that captures the history and the stories of select peoples and events. The film highlights the often-forgotten stories of the coalition between the Jewish and African American communities from the Civil Rights Movement to today.
Additionally, the film presents a compendium of evidence that underscores the familial connection between the two communities. Several local organizations and individuals are coming together to sponsor the showing of the film and to participate in a community discussion after viewing it.
The documentary that has toured the country has a special presentation scheduled at Circle Cinema on Jan. 11. It begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the film at 7 p.m., and ends with a panel discussion. In partnership with Circle Cinema, the program is co-sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society, Jewish Federation of Tulsa, and the Tulsa County Sherriff’s Office. It is an official event of the local events commemorating the MLK Holiday on Jan. 15.
“We are honored to be part of the events leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Tulsa,” said Ryan Thomas, communications manager and programmer at Circle Cinema.
The award-winning film includes chronicled materials and narrations from eyewitnesses, activists, Holocaust survivors, leaders, and many others of the Civil Rights Movement. The members of the King family add a rich perspective to the discussion. The non-fiction account has particular significance because of the divisiveness and dissension that is permeating among so many across the American landscape today. Sponsors of the program hope that the occasion to see the film will be an opportunity to emphasize unity and celebrate our common interests.
“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a symbol of unity, hope, and peace for people of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. It is important to acknowledge what the inspirational civil rights leader did for communities across the United States and globally,” said Pleas Thompson, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society in Tulsa.
In addition to viewing the film, Coretta Scott King will be represented by Chautauqua presenter Rebecca Marks-Jimerson. Dr. King’s wife was a political activist in her own right and played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, Ms. King was instrumental in the planning of marches, boycotts, and speeches all over the country, sometimes standing in for her husband. Marks-Jimerson is also a board member of the MLK Commemoration Society.
“A first century rabbi famously said, ‘You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.’ I’m excited to not only explore through film the history of the African American-Jewish civil rights alliance, but also to be in conversation about how we can continue the work to build a more just and equitable Tulsa for all,” said Brae Riley, chair of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa Social Justice Committee.
Riley will join Thompson, Marks-Jimerson, and Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado for a panel discussion that will follow the film. The question-and-answer session will be moderated by Dr. Jerry Goodwin, assistant professor at Tulsa Community College, and president of the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists Pro Chapter.
“Bringing people together for powerful films like this while also providing tools and resources about how to carry that message forward in daily life is what we strive for at Circle,” said Thomas.