Visiting Faculty Fellow Returns to Consider The New Black

Friday, December 12, 2014
Humanities Writ Large

The audience overflowed the Nasher Museum's auditorium at a recent screening of The New Black, a film produced by former Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellow Yvonne Welbon. The film, directed by Yoruba Richen, explores the ambivalent reactions of African Americans to the LGBTQ community's civil rights campaign and the marriage equality movement.

A panel discussion moderated by MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry followed the screening. Welbon was joined on stage by Mark Anthony Neal, professor in Duke's Department of African and African American Studies, black feminist writer Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and North Carolina State history professor Blair Kelley.

According to a Durham Herald-Sun article by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, the film begins with the false notion that "African-American voters were the reason same-sex marriage was defeated in California" and then considers their "definitive impact on the passing of same-sex marriage in Maryland in 2012."

"The panelists," Vaughan writes, "discussed the film and the aspect of 'otherness' for LGBT and also for all African-Americans in the wake of no indictments in the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, by police officers."

Vaughan notes that Welbon and Richen first met in Durham, at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. The New Black was an outgrowth of that meeting. Their film has gone on to receive numerous awards on the film festival circuit.

The December 3 screening was the final event of the semester-long series "Queering Duke History."

Referenced People

Founder/Producer, Sisters in Cinema, Senior Creative Consultant