Event: Filmmaker Spike Lee will screen portions of his latest documentary on New Orleans, “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” and lead a roundtable discussion with scholars Paul Stekler, Douglas Brinkley and others.
When: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2 p.m.
Where: Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, LBJ Museum and Library, The University of Texas at Austin. Free parking is available in Lots 38 and 40.
Admission: Tickets are free and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in advance at the Thompson Conference Center lobby on Nov. 3, 4 and 5 from 2-5 p.m. and Nov. 12 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Open to media.
Background: After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Lee documented the city’s struggles in his award-winning film, “When the Levees Broke.” He returned to New Orleans this year to tell the story of the city’s recovery. He ended up chronicling the Gulf Coast’s latest devastation after the BP oil spill. The film delves into such issues as the ongoing racial divide in the United States.
“W.E.B. Dubois spoke of the ’20th century’s problem of the color line.’ It’s the 21st century now and we have the same problem,” says Daina Ramey Berry, an associate professor of history and African and African Diaspora studies who invited Lee to campus. “Hurricane Katrina brings this to light and Spike Lee captures it in his films about New Orleans. This screening and discussion will explore that.”
In addition to Lee, the roundtable discussion will include:
- Tiffany Gill, associate professor of history (moderator)
- Leonard Moore, associate vice president for diversity and community engagement, professor of history
- Shirley Thompson, associate professor of American studies and African and African Diaspora studies
- Paul Stekler, chair of the Department of Radio-Television-Film
- Douglas Brinkley, professor of history, Rice University
- Camille Pluck, University of Texas at Austin student
- Zachery Haller, Huston-Tillotston University student
“Dialogues about historical events such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill are both important and necessary,” says Department of History Chair Alan Tully. “Our students have a unique opportunity to explore how the whole Gulf Coast region has changed over a short span of time. The History Department is delighted to co-sponsor this conversation with Spike Lee and members of our faculty and student body.”
“One cannot study Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and ignore the issues of race, class and power,” says Edmund T. Gordon, chair of the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. “With African and African Diaspora Studies co-sponsoring this roundtable, we hope to generate an open conversation about the role of these salient factors in reshaping New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and America writ large.”
“This program provides a unique opportunity for leading filmmakers and scholars to discuss a topic of tremendous significance,” says Michael L. Gillette, executive director of Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which is also sponsoring the event.
Other co-sponsors are the Department of English, the College of Communication, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Fine Arts. The event is a “We the People” initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.