By Janet Drake–
Dozens of U of L students, faculty and staff gathered in the Rauch Planetarium for a screening of “13th,” the Academy Award-nominated documentary, March 30.
Three U of L Ph.D. candidates held a panel after the screening, offering their insights on the film’s message.
“Having a symposium like this, not in one night but hopefully over time, will begin the process of asking questions and saying ‘something’s not right about this,’” panelist Matt Fischer said.
Named after the amendment which abolished slavery, “13th” documents institutionalized racism in the American criminal justice system. The film also examines current race tensions.
The film alleges institutionalized racism in the U.S. penal system is a relic of Jim-Crow era America. “13th” says racial inequalities continue at every level, including the schools, the government and the prison system.
Louisville was rated the 4th most racially segregated city in the country in 2015. Student discussion after the film showed a desire for change.
“I think the city of Louisville represents the people who want to move forward… while the state of Kentucky itself represents the apprehension and coded words that Nixon used towards African Americans,” freshman Cheyanne Richardson said.
Audience members asked questions ranging from connections between prison labor and slavery to actions students can take to get involved in advocacy.
The panelists explained how students can combat this issue in their lives. Panelist Nadia Nelson suggested students confront the system and the people it affects, especially for those who have never been exposed.