The Central Library in Madison will host the latest edition of its film series Indie Lens Popup at 6:30 Thursday evening.

I Am Not Your Negro will be screened ahead of its January 15th premiere at 10 pm Central Time on PBS. It is the latest in a run of documentaries that public television has made available to the Madison Public Library for viewing and discussion. After the showing of the film, a panel will discuss the historical and present conditions of violence against African-Americans, as well as other issues in communities of color.

Angela Fitzgerald of Madison College and host of Wisconsin Life, former Judge Paul Higginbotham, radio personality Deana Wright, and Madison Public Library community outreach specialist Annie Weatherby-Flowers will be on a panel discussing the film after the showing. They will also open up the floor to a Q&A with members of the audience.

I Am Not Your Negro is a highly acclaimed film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. It puts into visual form the writings of James Baldwin who intended to tell the stories of the lives and assassinations of Civil Rights Movement icons Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King jr., and Malcolm X. All were friends of Baldwin. He died before being able to finish his writing.

“I think that using a film like this is a really great way to open up conversation,” says Kylee Stoor, who runs community engagement at the Central Library. “Having a panel guide the conversation makes it more productive and gives people a safe place to talk about these issues.”

Stoor says she’s expecting upwards of fifty people for the showing. The Indie Lens Popup has been happening for over ten years at the library, Stoor said, but she expects this to be the most powerful to date.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about race historically and how we’re still struggling with some of the same things,” said Annie Weatherby-Flowers.  “And then the violence against black men. Is that new? In the past, you would only hear about it if you lived in that specific community where it happened or knew someone. Today, you can record it and post it and it goes viral.”

I Am Not Your Negro is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and pieces together Baldwin’s works with images of the Civil Rights era.

The screening is at 6:30 Thursday night and is free and open to the public.  

Written by Nicholas Garton

Nicholas Garton

Nicholas Garton is a Madison365 graduate and a reporter for Madison365.