Montclair History Center to Host 8th Annual ‘Price of Liberty’ Film and Discussion Series

Montclair, NJ – The Montclair History Center will host its 8th Annual “Price of Liberty” film and discussion series on issues related to race, segregation, integration, and Civil Rights. This 2023 series explores reparations and social justice sought for African American and Asian communities in two films — Free Renty (2021) by filmmaker David Grubin and Reparations (2021) by filmmaker Jon Osaki.

Free Renty

The screenings — which are free to the public with no registration required — will both be offered in-person and via Zoom. The in-person screenings will be held at Montclair Film’s Cinema 505 at 505 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair.

Online participation will be offered via Zoom (visit www.montclairhistory.org to access the zoom link). Discussion of the screenings will be led by scholars Leslie Wilson, PhD and Khemani Gibson, PhD.

The series begins with Free Renty on Wednesday, February 22 at 7 pm. Free Renty tells the story of Tamara Lanier, an African American woman determined to force Harvard University to cede possession of daguerreotypes of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved man named Renty. The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 by a Harvard professor to “prove” the superiority of the white race. The images remain emblematic of America’s failure to acknowledge the cruelty of slavery, the racist science that supported it and the white supremacy that continues to infect our society today. The film focuses on Lanier and tracks her lawsuit against Harvard; it features attorney Benjamin Crump, author Ta-Nehisi Coates, and scholars Ariella Azoulay and Tina Campt.

Reparations

The series continues with Reparations on Wednesday, March 29 at 7 pm. Reparations explores the four-century struggle to seek repair and atonement for slavery in the United States. Black and Asian Americans reflect on the legacy of slavery, the inequities that persists, and the critical role that solidarity between communities has in acknowledging and addressing systemic racism in America. This story is told by Black and Asian Americans who believe that collective liberation can only be achieved by standing with one another.

About the Scholars
Leslie Wilson, PhD, is a professor and associate dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State University. Dr. Wilson is the coordinator of social studies education for MSU’s Teacher Education Program as and he teaches African, American, and African American history. He specializes in 19th century Antebellum America and modern urban history. Dr. Wilson writes on a variety of subjects and his editorial pieces are often published in the local media.

Khemani Gibson, PhD, is a community organizer from Orange, NJ and earned a doctorate from New York University in history with a focus on the African Diaspora. Dr. Gibson’s research looks at issues of identity and community formation as well as conceptualizations of freedom and citizenship in the late-19th and 20th century Caribbean region. While committed to his work as an academic, Dr. Khemani is deeply committed to bridging the gap between the academy and marginalized communities.


The Price of Liberty series is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This event is also sponsored by The Tamima Team. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the Price of Liberty series do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

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