'The New Black' debuts on campus


The Cultural Resource and Compton Center hosted a screening
of the film "The New Black: LGBT Rights and African American Communities"
on Wednesday at 7pm. The film was screened in
Peeler Auditorium after a dinner reception.

Maryland, not commonly known as a political arena, became just that after the 2012 re-election of Barrack Obama as the fight for LGBTQ rights raged on in the African American community.

On Wednesday, the Compton Center partnered with the Cultural Resource Center to bring a documentary entitled, “The New Black” to DePauw’s campus. The film directed by Yoruba Richen highlights the fight for LGBTQ rights within the black community.

After the 2012 election, the world saw a shift from Obama. No longer defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman, he paved the way for the conversation for LGBTQ rights to be brought on at a serious level. Following three activists for the legalization, viewers get to witness the background work that it takes to pass legislation. Activist Sharron Lettmen-Hicks, supporter and leader for LGBTQ rights stated, “LGBTQ is the unfinished business of black people being free.” She continued, “People have to realize that all minorities are in this together, and we want the same things.”

Not only showing the pro-LGBTQ side of the campaign, viewers also see the campaign against these rights for the communities. Headlined by strong religious leaders in the African American community, such as preachers and pastors, these advisories became a force to be reckoned with after getting double the signatures needed to put a referendum on the ballot. Reverend Eddie Smith, one of these religious leaders defined being a gay as, “a white man’s disease that kind of latched on to us [African Americans].”

“When choosing a film, I wanted to go with something that would show a lot of the behind the scenes work that is so important in a campaign for LGBTQ rights. It also does a really good job of highlighting the issue at hand, but showing both sides at the same time,” said organizer Vivie Nguyen.

Professors echoed similar sentiments.

"Films like these are important because they are our best tools for exposure. The generation we are educating have a far greater visual literacy than if you were just to pick up a book and read it,” said professor Karin Wimbley. “One of the challenges professors face is we have all of this wonderful programming, but we can’t make it all. These campus events are extremely beneficial to students and the education process.”