Many whites even in highly liberal states such as California refuse to show up at weddings of their daughters to black men to this day is a sad American reality. However, to end such prejudices an ethical society that has long been a key supporter of the civil rights movement for African Americans Sunday night showed clips of the movie named “The Abolitionists” at their congregation’s main hall in Washington DC. “The Abolitionists” tells the stories of both black and white leaders in the struggle against slavery before the American civil war. “To create a more perfect union they tore the nation apart,” is how The Abolitionists that features the roles played by William Llyod Garrison and Frederick Douglass, among others, in their fight against slavery. Even president Abraham Lincoln appeared to be ambivalent over the question of slavery until the very last moment when he signed the Emancipation Declaration that granted the status of free men to blacks in the U.S.
The screening of the clips of “The Abolitionists” was held at the Washington Ethical Society on 16th and Kalmia streets in northwest Washington DC, followed by a lively discussion on what the movie means for contemporary American life. The discussion was moderated by Danna Pope, and attended by senior WES members. The participants heard from Hank Gassner, member of the board of directors of the American Ethical Union, that the humanists had come under the radar of the federal investigation agencies over what was being perceived by the security establishment as humanists becoming naive facilitators of “Godless communists” for espousing the cause of integration. Clips of other movies that were shown earlier were: “Freedom Riders” about the interracial group of college students who rode buses into the deep south, risking violence and death, to make visible the illegal segregation in interstate transportation; “Freedom Summer,” that details the summer of 1964 which brought hundreds of college students into the deep south to join local people in registering voters and challenging the Mississippi state Democratic Party that stood for segregation; “Slavery by Another Name” which shows how forced labor continued after the reconstruction era, well into the 20th century. Clips of one movie in the series named “The Loving Story,” which was scheduled for showing February 14 was postponed due to bad weather and will now be shown on March 1 at 7 pm. The movie portrays the love of an interracial couple — Mildred Jeter, a black woman and Richard Loving, a white man — and their determination to live in Caroline County in Virginia they knew as home during segregation when white-black marriages were illegal. The couple’s love led to the Supreme Court case that made interracial marriage legal throughout the nation.
According to the WES, the “Created Equal” video series is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, produced in partnership with Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to encourage public conversation. The WES calls itself a humanist religious community dedicated to eliciting the best in human spirit and helping to create a more just and loving world for people. The WES is a member of the American Ethical Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Unlike quite a few liberal organizations that stay away from addressing black issues, the WES appears to make a concerted effort to reach out to the black community. Many active members of the WES worked hard in the Obama election campaigns. The WES also lends its main hall for a meeting of the Cosmopolitan Group, predominantly African American members of the Alcoholics Anonymous, every Monday and Friday night at 8.00 pm.