Cinema and Civil Rights

Seminar Leader:
Karen Redrobe


What does the dominant narrative of the civil rights move-ment—as expressed through film—reveal, but also distort and suppress? This course used film and media resources, including local ones from Philadelphia, to help us think to-gether about how to develop, energize, and expand course units on the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the questions we will consider include: how have filmmakers depicted the lives, aspirations, and strategies of those who have strug-gled for equality in the United States of America between the late 1920s through the mid-1970s? How can course units place the Civil Rights Movement in the context of oth-er freedom struggles, including Black Lives Matter, that are part of students’ contemporary landscape? What strategies have filmmakers adopted as they try to give audio-visual form to freedom, the struggle for it, and the denial of it? How can students evaluate the truth claims and versions of history and freedom offered in films?

Unit TitleAuthor


How Can We Expect Them to Stand Up in a Crooked Room?

Regina Hastings
Keywords: film, Reading, Sociology, writing, Media, Pop culture, communications, cinema

African American Hair, Freedom, and Civil Rights: Using Film, Media, and African American Hair Styles to Analyze Civil Rights

Aisha Al-Muid
Keywords: film, freedom, Hair, Media, African American, civil rights, cinema