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THE Luthuli Museum in Groutville is celebrating black history month — a month-long focus on the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States, slavery and the inspirational story of President Barack Obama’s rise to power — with movie screenings, a dialogue session and an exhibition throughout February.
The programme is a partnership between the museum and the U.S. Consulate General in Durban, which aims to highlight the link between Nobel peace laureates Chief Albert Luthuli and Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.
In 1964, King became the youngest person yet to receive a Nobel peace prize, at the age of 35, while Luthuli became the first African to receive the award in 1960. Both men were recognised for their non-violent stance in the struggle for human rights and social justice.
They also shared similar theological views that culminated in the 1962 joint statement by Luthuli and King titled Appeal for Action against Apartheid. The statement called on people not to buy South African goods and for countries not to invest or trade. It was the first time that a call for sanctions had been made.
During February, there will be free screenings of films and documentaries including Great Hearts of Courage: Martin Luther King Jnr, which documents pivotal events like the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, the 1963 march on Washington and the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery; and Let the Freedom Sing: How Music Inspired the Civil Rights Movement, which tells the story of the civil rights movement through singers and songwriters who fought for change.
The screenings will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2.30 pm and on Saturdays at noon at the Luthuli Museum. The first screening takes place today.
There will also be a special screening of Martin Luther King Jr: The Legacy, an intimate portrait of the life of King, his character and historic campaigns, on February 22.
The film not only charts the successes in securing blacks’ rights, but looks at its failures and assesses the extent to which King’s dream of racial equality has been realised today. After the screening, the audience will have a chance to engage in a dialogue session.
The museum will also be hosting a poster exhibition featuring 14 different leaders of the civil rights movement in its interpretive centre.
The exhibition will be accompanied by books, magazines and resources that provide background reading. They will be made available to visitors and those attending the screenings, but will not be allowed out of the museum.
• A full programme can be found at www.luthulimuseum.co.za or on the museum’s Facebook page.
• For bookings or more information, phone community liaison officer Zinhle Nyembe at 032 559 6822. Booking for the screenings is essential because of limited seating. — Arts Editor.
BLACK history month is celebrated in the United States and Canada every year in February to focus on important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. In the United Kingdom, the celebrations take place in October.
It was first celebrated in 1926 when Dr Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard Ph.D., initiated negro history week. Woodson, a historian, chose the second week in February because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
In 1976, the bicentennial (200th birthday) of the United States of America, the week-long observance was extended to the entire month of February to have enough time for celebratory programmes and activities.