Black History Month event at Lawrence library aims to offer ‘film, food and fellowship’

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Amber Sellers said she wants to share the power of possibility with her community. That’s what inspired her to plan a film screening and talkback at the library this weekend. 

Sellers, a Lawrence city commissioner, said she wanted to find her personal way to elevate Black voices and Black issues during Black History Month, and to share what she believes is a valuable resource in a creative medium.

The film is a short documentary from The New Yorker called “The Barber of Little Rock.” The film “follows Arlo Washington as he helps members of his community escape the hazards of banking while Black,” its summary states. 

Washington shows those in his community that possibilities are available, “even when those who are closest to power and influence often don’t invest in them, or don’t see the need to invest in different individuals or communities,” Sellers said. 

Amber Sellers

She said the film speaks to a lot of issues that we’re dealing with in Lawrence, including access to capital for entrepreneurs, mutual aid and houselessness. 

“(The film) encourages me and encourages the work that I do, and I think it can serve as a catalyst to those in our community who are doing the work or wonder where they can fit in this work,” Sellers said. 

“… It is truly a testament of one’s love for community and one’s unrelentless faith and hope, and passing that on.”

Speakers who will participate in the talkback after the screening are Michele L. Watley and Jiji E. U. Osiobe. 

Watley is founder of Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet, a nonprofit dedicated to amplifying the voices and power of Black women through education and advocacy. She was instrumental in Lawrence becoming the first city in the state to pass the CROWN Act, which protects people from racial discrimination based on hair. Osiobe is an assistant professor of economics at Baker University and founder of the Ane Osiobe International Foundation.

The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 with a welcome and refreshments in the auditorium of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. The film screening will follow at 4 p.m., followed by the talkback around 4:30, and they’ll wrap up with a call to action at 5 p.m., according to an online event page.

“Film, food and fellowship. I want to make sure we cover all the bases,” Sellers said.

Registration is not required but is preferred so organizers can try to make sure they have enough refreshments to give everyone a chance to partake, Sellers said. Those who plan to attend can register at this link

Amber Sellers, in partnership with the Kansas Black Leadership Council, will host a screening of “The Barber of Little Rock,” a short documentary, on Feb. 24, 2024 at the Lawrence Public Library. (Contributed image)
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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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