Hilltop Happenings

Race, Justice and Incarceration Explored as Documentary '13th' Screened Mar. 16


SUMMIT, NJ - The powerful Academy Award-nominated documentary “13th” will be screened free to the public March 16, beginning at 7 p.m., in the Summit High School cafeteria.

The title refers to the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which freed the slaves and prohibited slavery, with the exception that involuntary servitude could still be used as punishment for a crime. In the movie, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the U.S. prison boom and the criminalization of African Americans from slavery to mass incarceration in the light of that clause.

The documentary opens with the fact that the U.S., with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated people. It argues that slavery was perpetuated in practice after the American Civil War by the Jim Crow system of segregation and disenfranchisement and, after the Civil Rights Movement, by the war on drugs leading to mass incarceration.

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Sponsored by Fountain Baptist Church and The Unitarian Church in Summit, the event will also feature a post-film panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Khalil G. Muhammad, professor of History, Race and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Muhammad, one of the scholars appearing in the movie, will be joined by Professor Johanna Foster, director of the Sociology Program at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, and Reverend Charles F. Boyer, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury.

“Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming, (this) documentary will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking,” wrote the New York Times' Manohla Dargis of the film, which was released last fall. “13th” was written and directed by Ava DuVernay, director of the 2014 film "Selma."

In addition to Muhammad, others featured in “13th” include U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Angela Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Newt Gingrich and others.

After participating together in the ongoing series of dialogues on Race sponsored by the Summit Interfaith Council, Fountain Baptist joined with the Unitarian congregation last September in a march along Springfield Avenue that culminated in raising Black Lives Matter banners at both buildings. The film showing is being planned by a joint 'Beyond the Banner' team that formed to continue the anti-racism work.

Light refreshments will be served preceding the screening, beginning at 6:45 p.m.         

For further information, call Fountain Baptist Church at 908-273-1199 or contact mail@fountainbaptist.org.

Summit High School is located at 125 Kent Place Boulevard.


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