Birth of a Movement Screens Feb. 28 During Black History Month

Las Vegas, N.M – New Mexico Highlands presents the 2016 historical documentary, Birth of a Movement, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. as part of the university’s Black History Month activities.

Birth of a Movement: The Battle Against America’s First Blockbuster tells the little-known story of how William Monroe Trotter, an editor of a black newspaper in Boston, helped launch a nationwide movement in 1915 in protest of D.W. Griffith’s film, Birth of a Nation.

The Highlands Office of Campus Life and the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs are sponsoring the free film screening in the university’s Student Center Ballroom, 800 National Ave. A panel discussion follows the film.

According to PBS, Birth of a Nation was a controversial silent feature film and box office smash that proved divisive in a country still struggling with the aftermath of the Civil War Reconstruction. In addition, the film was considered to be flagrantly racist and glorified the Klu Klux Klan.

William Monroe Trotter is credited with galvanizing African-American leaders in a fight for equality decades before the African-American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States.

Susan Gray, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, directed and produced Birth of a Movement. She is known for films that advocate for social justice.

“We are honored to join the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs in screening Birth of a Movement, giving our students and the community an opportunity to experience this important documentary,” said Andrellita Chavez, Highlands Campus Life student activity coordinator. “Although we love and appreciate our African American community at Highlands all year long, Black History Month allows us to highlight different aspects of the culture, as well as struggles, this population experiences. We stand in solidarity with them.”

After the film screening, an African-American panel will lead a discussion with time for audience questions. The panel includes:

  • Shaina Saint-Lot – New Mexico Office of African American Affairs economic outreach coordinator
  • Curt Spencer, Highlands University Alumni Board member
  • Kylee Norman, Phalisha Perkins, and Kyle Bedsloe, Highlands University Students
  • Rodney Bowe, UNM Men of Color

“I think it’s important for our Highlands students to have the chance to let their voices be heard in this type of forum, and also for the students and community who are not on the panel to be able to ask questions and hopefully gain insight,” Chavez said.

Highlands and the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs jointly presented a panel discussion about mentorship at Highlands Jan. 18 that commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.