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Hartford’s Real Art Ways uses film and discussion to draw lessons in celebration of MLK Day

African American children participating in a Civil Rights protests wait for a police van to take them to jail in Birmingham, Alabama.
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African American children participating in a civil rights protest wait for a police van to take them to jail in Birmingham, Alabama.

Real Art Ways in Hartford is commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy Monday with a series of film screenings and discussions about the civil rights movement.

The daylong eventwill feature three documentary films. “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” tells the story of the young people who, in 1963, braved police dogs and firehoses to march in Birmingham, Alabama. “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot” chronicles one of the most important victories in the civil rights era. And “Soundtrack for a Revolution” explores the songs that helped ignite the civil rights movement.

“I really appreciate that film, because it hones in on how music, songs and chants really bring a lot of joy and connection to organizing,” said Cai Diluvio, learning and engagement manager for Real Art Ways. “You are protesting in the streets, and song and music just make it come alive in a very impactful way.”

The event will also feature discussions based on the films, convened by anti-racism activist Derek Hall. He said these three films show how everyday people can usher in important social changes.

“All of these films zoom in on community organizing practices,” Hall said. “Harnessing spiritual faith, using art to sustain people in the work for social change and for real connection, and so it really breaks down how we go about creating the world we all need and deserve.”

Diluvio said these three documentaries are shown together when local students come to Real Art Ways for the Film Field Trip Program. She hopes the importance of youth involvement will be part of the discussion.

“Let’s specifically engage in a conversation around how youth are really empowered in these movements, and how we can support them, and how we can empower our youth,” Diluvio said.

The eventis free and begins Monday at 11 a.m. at Real Art Ways in Hartford.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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