Seton Hall hosted a private screening of the new movie “Harriet” on Nov. 16, as a “collaborative, interactive, experimental academic event,” according to Dr. Kelly Harris, one of the hosts of the event.
The movie chronicles the life of Harriet Tubman, one of the most famous members of the Underground Railroad. The movie follows Tubman as she works to free herself from slavery before going on to free hundreds of other slaves through the Underground Railroad.
Students had the opportunity to attend a private screening of the movie at the Bow Tie Cinemas, which was then followed by a discussion between the students that attended and the professors that hosted the event.
Dr. Harris said that it was important that there was discussion among those who attended to ensure that the movie was being viewed through an appropriate lens.
“I wanted to enhance the audience’s understanding of the film as both a contemporary and a historical event,” Dr. Harris said. “Facilitating discussion and analysis immediately after the film was a keynote feature of the event.”
Dr. Forrest Pritchett, another organizer of the event and the Director of the Martin Luther King Leadership Program, was also present at the event.
When asked about the overall impact that this film will have on viewers, Dr. Pritchett emphasized the impact Tubman’s actions will have on viewers. “I believe we saw the veracity of Harriet’s persistence against all odds and we see her transformation into a leader from the fight from slavery and the battlefield of the Civil War,” Pritchett said.
Dr. Pritchett said he believes that this film will have an important impact that students and scholars might miss from textbooks.
“Lots of details are left out of textbooks, because the study of historical detail is an arduous task by itself,” Pritchett said. “In telling the narrative of American slavery, we are more likely to remember, repeat and uphold the view of the enslavers.”
This movie comes at a time when there are discussions of replacing former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Tubman. This was not missed by Pritchett, who commented on the implications of the change.
Pritchett said, “The comparison of replacing President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, with a former slave, ignited a series of controversial debates and examinations about slavery and wealth-building capacity for white men.”
Rylee Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.