Filmmaker Carvin Eison will present his film, "Shadows of the Lynching Tree," at Niagara University on Wednesday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. in Dunleavy Hall Room 127.
"Shadows of the Lynching Tree" brings to life the incomprehensible atmosphere of a lynching and portrays the participants as real people. The film chronicles events leading to an unsettling encounter between two boys both named Jesse (one black, the other white). Following a 1916 incident in Waco, Texas, Jesse Washington, the 17-year-old black youth, was summarily tried and lynched. The second Jesse, a 10-year-old white youth from James Baldwin's short story "Going to Meet the Man," is taken by his father to witness the lynching. On that day, more than 15,000 Waco citizens closed their shops, abandoned their farms, and brought their families to take pleasure in the torture and killing of young Jesse Washington.
Atrocities associated with South Africa's system of apartheid, and the genocide of the Nazi holocaust are popular themes in feature films and programs for television. According to organizers of the screening, the same cannot be said of the lynchings that took place in America between 1865 and the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. They say the magnitude of lynching and its impact on American culture is underestimated, the tragedy of lynching is largely absent from the collective memory, little is known of the lives of those who were lynched and even less about the lives of those who carried out and witnessed lynchings.
The film asks the question, "Is the age of Obama proof that Americans have reconciled the horrors of the past, or are we living under the shadow of its legacy?"
This presentation is part of Media Awareness Week at Niagara University, which is created to foster awareness and understanding of the mass media. The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Multicultural and International Student Affairs and the departments of communication studies, sociology, and modern and classical languages.
To view the trailer, visit www.shadowsofthelynchingtree.com.