Montclair presents film series on race, civil rights

MONTCLAIR, NJ — For the fourth year in a row, the Montclair History Center, formerly the Montclair Historical Society, will host a film and discussion series on issues related to race, segregation, integration and civil rights. This year, the series will be hyperlocal, with films based in Montclair. All programs are free, thanks to a grant from Boiling Springs Savings Bank.

The series kicks off with “A Place to Become,” which explores early 20th century Montclair through the eyes of women who attended the YWCA. Their stories bring to life a town grappling with de facto segregation, integration and the civil rights movement. This documentary, which was produced by the Montclair History Center, premiered at the Montclair Film Festival in 2014. Drew University’s Lillie Edwards, a Montclair resident, will host the first program on Thursday, March 9, at 1 p.m.

The series continues with “Our Schools Our Town,” a documentary created by Masiel Rodriquez-Vars that explores Montclair’s evolution from a neighborhood school to a magnet school system. The programs will take on March 22 at 7 p.m. hosted by Edwards and April 13 at 1 p.m. hosted by Leslie Wilson, both at the Montclair Public Library. The March 22 evening program will include a discussion period with Rodriquez-Vars and members of the community who were involved in the development of the magnet school system as well as people who are educators today.

The series will end with a screening of “The One That Got Away,” a film that was featured in the 2014 Montclair Film Festival. Tourrie Moses was a gifted student, always engaged in his work and eager to learn. But as the years went by, Moses became less and less interested in school and spent more time on the streets, until a tragic decision changed his life forever. In “The One that Got Away,” director John Block follows Montclair teacher Dan Gill as he reconnects with Moses, illuminating the relationship between the two men and examining the circumstances that led to and the aftermath of Moses’ fateful actions. The program will be moderated by Wilson and will be held April 26 at 7 p.m. and May 4 at 1 p.m. at the Montclair Public Library. Block, will be on hand for the discussion period on April 26.

The Price of Liberty film series is co-sponsored by the Montclair African American Heritage Foundation, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Montclair State University Center for Community Engagement and the Montclair History Center.

“‘The Price of Liberty’ is a continuation of the film series we offered for the last three years, which was extremely well-received by the public,” Jane Eliasof, executive director of the Montclair History Center, said in a press release. “The series grew out of the Montclair History Center’s initiative that focused on the period when the house built by Israel Crane in 1796 was a YWCA for the African American community in Montclair from 1920-1965. One component of that initiative was public programming on issues related to civil rights, segregation, integration and women’s empowerment.”

Other components included the development of the oral history documentary, “A Place to Become,” which will be shown during this series, and the reinterpretation of the Crane House to reflect the period when it was a YWCA. The Crane House and Historic YWCA is located at 108 Orange Road in Montclair.

All “Price of Liberty” programs will be held at the Montclair Public Library, 50 S. Fullerton Ave., and hosted by a humanities scholar who will introduce the film clip and lead a discussion on the film’s topic. Admission is free for all three films in the series. The public is invited to attend one or more programs; no advance registration is required. The Montclair History Center can be contacted at 973-744-1796 or mail@montclairhistorical.org.

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