NKU team helped create moving documentary on hate crimes in America

For immediate release…
Friday – Feb. 7, 2014

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - “My parents hadn’t told me there were people who hated other people because of the color of their skin.”

Those stark, poignant words ‒ spoken by Dr. Olivia Hooker as she recalls the terror of a 1921 race riot in Tulsa, Okla. ‒ are only a sample of the moving moments in a new documentary, Hate Crimes in the Heartland, which will have its Cincinnati premiere at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (50 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati) on Feb. 24. Hooker, who is African American, was a child at the time and innocently unaware of America’s undercurrent of racial division, which Hate Crimes in the Heartland explores then and now.

The film examines the issue through the lens of Tulsa, where two hate crimes, the 1921 riot and the 2012 Good Friday murders, continue to impact human rights, education, and community relations today.

And the film has some deep roots at Northern Kentucky University:

  • The director and co-writer is Rachel Lyon, former chair of the NKU communication department. Her co-writer, Bavand Karim, is a producer/director at NorseMedia and lecturer in electronic media and broadcasting. Karim also shot the film and served as associate producer.

  • Electronic media and broadcasting professor David Thomson provided narration for the film’s promotional previews.

  • Two recent NKU graduates – Taylor Harris and Liz Ray – also worked on the film. Harris, now in graduate school, traveled with Lyon to Tulsa and is credited as the film’s production coordinator.

  • The Chase College of Law and the College of Informatics were among the national partners for the film’s production. In addition, the NKU Department of History and Geography and Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement are co-sponsors of the Freedom Center screening.

  • The Scripps Center will host a Democracy Square Live Dialogue at 3:30 p.m. of Feb. 24, during which NKU students will discuss race relations in the United States. History Professor Dr. Sharon Vance will facilitate that discussion. Dr. David Harris of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School will also participate. The institute served in an advisory capacity on the film. The Democracy Square Live dialogue will last an hour in Student Union room 106. Students interested in attending should RSVP to engage@nku.edu. Student tickets to the Freedom Center screening also can be requested at the email address.

“We are proud to support the first Cincinnati screening of this important film, which holds a mirror up to race relations in America, past and present, and calls on us to do better tomorrow than we’re doing today,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of the Scripps Howard Center. “The NKU team involved with the film clearly hopes it will prompt a serious dialogue in our community and nation about how to create a more just and tolerant society.”

Lyon is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker who produced 65 feature films, movies-for-television, feature documentaries, and limited series. Her work often focuses on critical global issues, human rights, civil equality, art and archeology, lifestyle, and history.

The film was screened in Tulsa earlier this week. Tulsaworld.com described the film like this:

“It begins in Tulsa in April 2012, when two white men drove through a largely African-American part of north Tulsa shooting blacks they targeted at random. The men killed three people and left two others in critical condition. The film compares the modern-day murders to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, a white-led attack on the black community and the largest race riot in American history. The rioters burned down the wealthy Greenwood district, then known as the ‘Negro Wall Street’, possibly leaving up to 300 dead ‒ the deaths were undocumented ‒ and more than 10,000 people homeless.”

The film includes interviews with people who lived through the 1921 riots. One of those was Dr. Hooker, who went on to earn a doctoral degree and to serve as a New York state senator. She was six years old when her community in Tulsa was destroyed by riots. Dr. Hooker is a co-founder of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, which drafted recommendations for restitution.

The Freedom Center event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. The one-hour film will be shown at 7 p.m. Admission is $15.

A discussion will follow the film’s showing, moderated by historian and journalist Dan Hurley of WKRC Local 12 television. Hurley also appears in the film. The discussion will center around the impact of hate crimes in America over the past 100 years. The film allows audiences to focus on solutions, local heroes, and distinguished speakers.

“Participants have the opportunity to hear from filmmakers, scholars, survivors, historians, and policymakers in an intimate setting,” said C.G. Newsome, president of the Freedom Center. “This eye-opening film provides a unique platform for open and engaging discussion with the community at large about race, human rights, and how we can combat the ill of hate-based crime in America.”

For more information…
For more information about the Freedom Center call (513) 333-7739 or visit http://freedomcenter.org.

For more information about the film, contact Elizabeth Ray at (859) 640-6416 or raye1@nku.edu, or visit www.hatecrimesheartland.com.

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