Movies not only bring people together, they can be vehicles for discussion as well.
For that reason, on-campus screenings of movies with cultural content were at the top of a list of action items that evolved from Palm Beach Atlantic University’s campuswide Community Chats for Action, which began in February and ended earlier this month.
For instance, during one of the chats, a participant suggested a campus showing of the 1999 motion picture Snow Falling on Cedars. The Oscar-nominated film deals with Japanese-American relations around the time of World War II.
"There are tons of movies that will create a great conversation," said Barbara Chieves, a race relations consultant who coordinated the four weeks of chats at PBA based on a series of Community Chats for Action held last year in the city of West Palm Beach.
|Consultant Barbara Chieves leads the Action Forum in the Lassiter Student Center.|
As part of PBA’s Black History Month observance in February, the Office of International and Multicultural Programs in the Center for Campus Connections invited the campus community to join chat groups on the topics of intercultural and race awareness. The groups were open to faculty, staff and students of all races and ethnic backgrounds, and each group met once a week for four weeks.
The chats concluded with an Action Forum, during which attendees chose their top three action items.
Movies with racial and cultural themes have been shown at PBA in the past. During Black History Month, students were invited to view a presentation of the Denzel Washington movie The Great Debaters.
Also, Chieves said she is organizing a free countywide Community Chats for Action discussion on "Race in the Movies" which will be held on March 29 at the Rinker Playhouse in the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.
Second on the action item list after movie screenings was a suggestion to hold a series of "dining room chats" during a multicultural awareness event known as "Got Culture?" Week, which will be held March 28-31. Plans for those chats are currently under way.
"This is one of the new formats, along with others, that will continue to open dialog on issues of race and ethnicity on campus," said Beth Chavez, assistant director of the Center for Campus Connections.
The third action item involved promoting off-campus ethnic and multicultural activities so that students can take part in them. An example of these types of events included the recent India Fest in West Palm Beach, said one student who attended the Action Forum.
Those came to the Action Forum said they look forward to seeing their action items become reality. “I’m excited to see how it turns out,” said Bahamas native Tebby Burrows, a communications major who said she especially liked the idea of more movie nights.
Taj Anderson, a biology major with a concentration in pre-health who also comes from the Bahamas, agrees that the dialog should continue.
"I think it’s a great way to make the students aware of the different races and ethnicities," he said.