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An account of the Ferguson uprising as told by the people who lived it followed by an in-depth discussion with Dr. Sarah Morice Brubaker and Reverend Dr. Eric Gill.
Tulsa, OK- OSU-Tulsa 150 North Hall
Winner of the Crested Butte Film Festival 2017, Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival 2017 and nominated for the Sundance Film Festival 2017, Black Reel Awards 2018 Whose Streets will be presented at OSU-Tulsa Thursday February 21st by OSU Cineculture.
OSU Cineculture was an initiative started by Denni Blum out of the OSU-Stillwater campus in 2009 to create a platform for conversations surrounding social justice issues. In the Fall of 2017 OSU Cineculture at OSU-Tulsa brought the initiative to their campus. The film serves as a knowledge base for the post screening discussion.
The 5:30 film will include a post screening discussion by Dr. Sarah Morice Brubaker and Reverend Dr. Eric Gill.
Brubaker works as an Associate Professor at Phillips Theological Seminary. She grew up in the St. Louis, MO area. Dr. Brubaker participated in two class visits to Ferguson, MO following the uprising centered around the unjustified police shooting of 18 year-old Micheal Brown in 2014.
While Brubaker’s parents grew up in Ferguson, Missouri ( Brubaker grew up in nearby St. Louis) and the family attended church in the area it took Brown’s death and surrounding circumstances for her to realize how municipal governments were “basically using citizens as ATMs” by giving out citations for low level and non-violent offenses. The financial burden of the citations on the community was compounded by municipal courts which were randomly open and often moved from place to place.
Dr. Brubaker hopes that the screening and discussion will enable a dialogue between activist communities in the Tulsa area and the St.Louis area, “…key people in these two cities can learn from each other.”, said Brubaker.
Reverend Dr. Eric Gill, Pastor of Operations at Metropolitan Baptist Church in the Tulsa area, attended the class trip taken with Dr. Brubaker and her students in the summer of 2018.
It was interesting to hear the contrast of perspectives between these two people who fight for and champion social justice when asked how they felt about the atmosphere of Ferguson Missouri in 2018.
“In 2018 the central players from the 2014 protests were starting to come to terms with their trauma… they were focusing on self care.” said Brubaker.
Gill on the other hand recounted an incident that occurred during their lecture sessions just blocks away from the lecture hall.
In a situation similar to what happened at Jun’s Beauty Supply in Tulsa during the summer of 2018 a convenience store owner punched a black women who was a patron of his business. “The students were able to see swift community action”, said Gill. “Everybody in the community was of one accord”, within a span of four hours protesters descended on the gas station and unarmed men blocked the entrance to await the arrival of law enforcement who were expected to, and did, close the store after telling protesters to disband.
Even the following day area law enforcement were stationed at the scene, preventing the establishment from conducting business. Everybody was of one accord, the community found strength and solidarity in the face of the unfortunate tragedy of Mike Brown’s death.
Gill relayed that for him “…Ferguson was full intensity all the time..” in the vigilance of the community to ensure that people were not oppressed or marginalized. Even those in the community who chose not to participate in the protest or who felt they personally were not impacted by the outcome of the protest had something to offer as a show of solidarity toward the people protesting to uphold the rights of their citizenry.
Dr. Gill also discussed the possibility that generational trauma; the inherited and ingrained fear, apprehension, and apathy; could be a possible reason for citizens of Tulsa refraining from a similar protest movement when institutionalized brutality takes the lives of our community members.
“The generation after the massacre was taught to fear speaking of the massacre. When lives are lost we become introspective, was it worth it we ask ourselves and each other.” said Gill. The 1921 Tulsa Massacre, “came from a group of people just having…”.
“If the potential outcome is the slaughter of thousands of people for just having (wealth, property, autonomy) is the risk of protesting worthwhile?”
The students attending the trip to Ferguson that were actively engaged in prayer vigils after the murder of Terence Crutcher were “surprised to see that prayer could come alongside protest” said Dr. Gill , “…they learned to organize. The biggest take away was that as a community we Do have each other.”
Hear more from Dr. Sarah Morice Brubaker and Reverend Dr. Eric Gill at Thursday’s OSU Cineculture screening and post film discussion.
Literary Editor Casey McLerran is the Literary Editor at the Black Wall Street Times. She is a Sooner State transplant from Forest Hills, NY. McLerran arrived in Oklahoma at the age of three shortly after gentrification displaced her and her family out of their home in New York. At first glance, many think they have McLerran figured out. To be frank, she’s a biracial American young woman that unapologetically embraces her half-African identity — a feminist-womanist she is. Her pen operates as her voice as well as her sword. Her accolades include the 2018 Rural Oklahoma Poetry Museum’s Oklahoma Poem Award, a business management degree, and her three beautiful children. Her objective with the Black Wall Street Times is to elevate and amplify the literary art of modern black American culture, pay tribute to African-American literary trailblazers, all while simultaneously linking and introducing children to the world of colorful American writers.