Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and the Center for Creative Partnerships will host Community Cinema, a social justice film series, this spring.
Three films will be presented at 6 p.m. in Roquemore Auditorium, Building R, on the campus of OCtech, beginning with “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” by Kristy Andersen on Thursday, Feb. 23. Additional films in the series are “Rosenwald” by Aviva Kempner on Thursday, March 16, and “The Ipson Saga” by Jay Ipson on Thursday, April 20. The series is free and open to the public.
“The goal of the film series is to engage and empower young people and the community to advocate for educational, economic, political and social equality,” OCtech President Dr. Walt Tobin said.
Following the viewing of each film, a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers and humanities scholars will be held.
“The project will promote the sharing of ideas, encourage the community to consider different points of view and foster critical thinking,” said Ellen Zisholtz, CCP co-president.
“Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” explores the life of one of the most important writers of 20th-century African-American literature, best known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Hurston’s grandniece, Lois Gaston, will join filmmaker Andersen for a discussion after the film.
“Rosenwald” tells of the partnership between businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of Jewish immigrants, and Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery and rose to become the founder of the Tuskegee Institute and an advisor to U.S. presidents. Together, they built 5,500 schools for African-American children in the South. Filmmaker Kempner will be on hand to discuss the film.
“The Ipson Saga” is the story of the survival of the Ipson family. Filmmaker Ipson, who survived the Holocaust with his family in Lithuania and co-founded the Virginia Holocaust Museum, will discuss his film, and Dr. Millicent Brown, historian and civil rights advocate, will relate the Holocaust to the African-American community from a historic and contemporary perspective.
The film series is funded in part by OCtech and South Carolina Humanities and sponsored by Cox Industries Inc.
About the Films
“Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun”
by Kristy Andersen
Interspersing insights from leading scholars and rare footage of the rural South – some of it shot by Hurston – with reenactments of a revealing 1943 radio interview, “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” explores Hurston’s life from her childhood in Eatonville, Fla., the first all-black incorporated town in the U.S., to the beginnings of her writing career, her place in the Harlem Renaissance and her work as an ethnologist of African-American culture.
Using her research as the groundwork for her books and plays, Hurston was not ashamed to show everyday African-American life or use “incorrect” black English, which often put her at odds with black intellectuals, many of whom found her uncensored pictured of black life and speech embarrassing.
After being falsely accused of abusing two young African-American boys, Hurston lived out the remainder of her life in relative obscurity and poverty in Florida. She died in 1960 at age 69, leaving behind numerous unpublished works and seven out-of-print books. (newsreel.org/video/zora-neale-hurston)
by Aviva Kempner
“Rosenwald” tells of the partnership between businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, and Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery and rose to become the founder of the Tuskegee Institute and an advisor to U.S. presidents. Together, they built thousands of schools for African-American children in the South.
The son of a clothier, Rosenwald – who became one of the wealthiest men in America and a beloved humanitarian – teamed up with Richard Sears to build Sears, Roebuck and Co., where he served president from 1908 to 1924 and chairman from 1924 to 1932.
Rosenwald used his great wealth and leadership skills to try to fix what he viewed as wrong with the world. He helped establish social services to meet the needs of impoverished Jewish immigrants in Chicago at the turn of the century and was approached by Washington in 1912 to assist in funding a program for African-American southerners that promoted economic advancement through vocational education. He gave away some $63 million in his lifetime to various causes, but perhaps Rosenwald’s greatest accomplishment was the establishment of challenge grants for the creation of more than 5,500 schools for poor, rural African-American children. Rosenwald schools replaced the run-down buildings that housed most rural African-American public schools. From 1915 to 1932, some 660,000 children were educated in Rosenwald schools, giving them a chance to move beyond the poverty found in such areas. (rosenwaldfilm.org)
“The Ipson Saga”
by Jay Ipson
“The Ipson Saga” is the story of the Ipson family’s survival during the Holocaust in Lithuania. Jacob “Jay” Ipson and his family were forced into the Kovno ghetto when he was six years old. One day, he and his mother were in line with his grandparents, two uncles and an aunt to be deported for execution, but he and his mother were sent away by a Jewish policeman who happened to be a friend of his father’s and became the only two people to survive out of the 1,700 rounded up for deportation.
After escaping the ghetto with his parents in 1943 – before the ghetto was turned into a concentration camp – the Ipsons hid with a Polish-Catholic farmer’s family for nine months. Six of those months were spent underground in a potato hole that Ipson’s father dug out with his bare hands and a stick under the cover of darkness.
The Ipsons immigrated via Munich to the United States when Jay Ipson was 12. Ipson later cofounded the Virginia Holocaust Museum, which first opened in 1997. Tens of thousands visit the museum each year, and more than 100 middle and high schools visit annually. The Ipson family’s saga is at the center of the museum’s core exhibits. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_M._Ipson, vaholocaust.org, radford.edu/content/radfordcore/home/news/releases/2014/april/how-a-family-escaped-the-holocaust--survivor-jay-ipson-shares-st.html)