Baylor professor to lead movie, race discussion event in Washington, D.C.

Washington National Cathedral, located in Washington, D.C., was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1893 and established in 1907. Photo courtesy of Washington National Cathedral

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

Baylor University will be sponsoring the annual film series “A Long, Long Way” today at the Washington National Cathedral.

The event will feature film screenings of “Glory” and “Harriet,” afternoon workshops and panel discussions that aim to explore topics such as race, prejudice and faith in films.

Baylor English professor and published author Greg Garrett is a co-founder of the event, which is in its third year, and one of several speakers who will be involved in the various discussions.

Garrett said that when he first came up with the idea for a program on race and film, “the cathedral was the obvious choice” for the event.

“It’s the nation’s house of worship,” Garrett said.

The other co-founders of the film series include feminist theologian Kelly Brown Douglas and Michelle Dibblee, the cathedral’s program director.

Garrett said that months of emailing, calling and organizing go into planning the event every year. Together, the co-founders select the films that will be shown and reach out to speakers for the discussion panel.

Other speakers are NPR newscaster Korva Coleman, screenwriter Rev. Janet Broderick, composer Joshuah Brian Campbell and historian and associate professor at Morgan State University David Taft Terry.

“The basic premise of the film festival is that we choose an older film and a contemporary film and put them in conversation with each other,” Garrett said.

Past showings have included “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Get Out,” “Do the Right Thing” and “BlacKkKlansman.”

“This year, we chose two historical films about racism and slavery — one told primarily from the point of view of a white male, one from the perspective of a black female,” Garrett said. “We also had the luxury of knowing some of the filmmakers, so one of the writers of ‘Glory’ and a man who won an Oscar for Sound Editing for ‘Glory’ will be part of our conversations, and the co-writer of ‘Rise Up,’ Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song, will join us to talk about Harriet.”

Frisco senior Meghan Furney is one of Garrett’s students who will be traveling to Washington, D.C., for the event.

Furney, a film and digital media major, said she feels “excited to experience an event that presents active discussion involving race in film.”

“Racial representation in movies has been a hot topic for as long as movies have existed,” Furney said.

Spring senior Lauren Domino is attending the event, and said she looks forward to watching the films in the cathedral.

Domino said she plans on “just soaking up as much knowledge as [she] possibly can in those three days.”

Students participating in the Baylor in Washington program are currently taking a course on race and film coordinated by Garrett and will also be attending the film series.

Garrett said that bringing Baylor students together to “dive deep” into discussion is one of his favorite parts about the event.

“Films offer a quick way to jump to deep conversation about race and prejudice because they let us identify with characters both like and unlike ourselves, and it’s been a joy to help plan this program and others like it,” Garrett said. “What I’m looking forward to is seeing old friends I love and admire, learning alongside my students and sparking dialogue on what I think may be the most important issue we face – regarding all of God’s children as fully human.”