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Film and Speaker Series Explores Social History of Interracial Relationships

January 25, 2018

This February, a film series, talk back, and panel discussion will explore society’s perceptions of interracial relationships over the last century and a half.

Organized by Dr. Arlette Miller Smith, associate professor of English and program director of African American Studies, and Dr. Patricia Tweet, assistant professor of sociology, human services concentration, both professors said the films will provide sources for discussions related to societal attitudes toward interracial relationships.

The idea of the series came about when a small group of faculty and staff at the College gathered to watch and discuss the film, “Loving.” The film depicts the events surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. The landmark case celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, and sparked a larger discussion among the group about its legacy. They felt a film series would offer the opportunity to create a campus-wide forum for such conversations, starting with the Civil War era through today.

“The series traces the journey this issue has taken over the last 150 years and the impact it has had on changing the course of interracial or intercultural relationships,” Miller Smith said.

Events include:

Film Screening: “Free State of Jones”
6:15 to 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, in Basil 135
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, and Keri Russell, “Free State of Jones” is a Civil War era film based on the story of Newton and Rachel Knight.

Lecture: “From these Roots” by Yvonne Dobbs-Bivins
6:15 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Basil 135
Dobbs-Bivins will discuss “Free State of Jones” and her research and connection to the Knight family. Dobbs-Bivins’ grandfather is the stepson of John Floyd Knight, whose parents were Newton and Rachel Knight.

Film Screening: “Loving”
6:15 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, in Basil 135
The 2016 film “Loving” explores the marriage between Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) and the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Loving v. Virginia, which overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.

Film Screening: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, in Basil 135
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” is an Academy Award-winning film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Katherine Houghton. The film, which follows a young interracial couple as they tell their parents their plans to marry, premiered just six months after the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia.

Film Screening: “Get Out”
6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Basil 135
A dark satire written and directed by Jordan Peele, “Get Out” follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as he visits the home of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams).

Panel: Film Talk Back and Couples Discussion
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Basil 135
A panel of couples will share their experiences in interracial marriages and their perceptions of society today.

The principal sponsor is the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology; African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts minors; Departments of American Studies and Philosophy; First Year and Honors Programs; and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

RSVP to JoAnne Robinson at and email questions to Dr. Miller Smith at or Dr. Tweet at