Worcester Cinema Screening New Film to Celebrate Black History Month

(NECN: Mike Cronin) - February is black history month. To celebrate, the community cinema in Worcester, Mass. will be screening a new film, called ‘The Powerbroker,’ about a very influential African American in the civil rights era.

Gloria Hall lives in Worcester and is a historian. On Thursday, she'll be a panelist at Clark University for a screening of ‘The Powerbroker.’ It's a documentary about Whitney Young, a civil rights activist.

“And he worked essentially behind the scenes, in the board rooms, as well as in the oval office to get thing and to better conditions of black Americans,” she says.

The screening falls on the last day of black history month. Hall says the celebration was initially established as a week-long event but it was expanded to a month in the 1970s.

“Is it still important? Some would say not so much so, I would say continuing to do it, it's still important.”

Dr. Holly Izard is a curator at the Worcester Historical Museum. During the 18th and 19th centuries, she says Worcester was a large abolitionist community. Bounty hunters used to track down and capture runaway slaves, but Hall says the working class didn't allow it to happen in Worcester.

“They were actually so violent in their protection of the slave that some of the rioters had to protect the bounty hunter from getting killed,” says Dr. Izard.

She says many African Americans settled in the Laurel Clayton community in the 18th century but interstate 290 forced them out after World War II.

“It wouldn't happen to Mass. Ave but it happened here because these were people who didn't have any power.”

Meanwhile, Hall says knowing ones history is important. She says the documentary recognizes one person who made a difference in the lives of many.

“The most important thing is that people learn something. If you learn something about the history and recognize the history than that's in and of itself important.”

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