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Kauffman Museum, SGA, to host book, film discussions

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Kauffman Museum continue their participation in the opening this September of the National Museum of African American History and Culture with special book and movie discussions at the museum.

Kauffman Museum was one of 67 groups or organizations nationwide chosen to be part of the celebration of the newest museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. SGA is sponsoring a project called #PieceUnited, through which students share in creative ways the personal meanings African-American history and culture have for them.

The book and film discussions will happen on “third Thursday” evenings. Book discussions begin at 6:30 p.m. and film viewings, followed by discussion, at 5:30 p.m., in the Kauffman Museum auditorium.

Kauffman Museum is partnering with Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Harvey County Historical Museum, Warkentin House, Clayworks and other area businesses and organizations to have evening hours and special programs once a month on the third Thursday, when the museum will offer free admission and will be open until 8 p.m.

The first book discussion is Oct. 20 on Underground Railroad, the 2016 novel by Colson Whitehead.

Whitehead turns the Underground Railroad (the term for a network of sympathetic people and “safe houses” stretching from the American South to Canada during the time of slavery in the United States, to help slaves get to freedom) into a physical reality. An escaped slave named Cora moves forward through history, and through experiences of oppression and discrimination, during different periods of American history.

Nov. 17 is the first film viewing and discussion, of The Birth of a Nation.

This 1915 silent film chronicles the relationships between two American families during the Civil War and Reconstruction. It was highly controversial for its biased portrayal of black men as unintelligent and sexually aggressive toward white women, and its seeming glorification of the Ku Klux Klan.

The second book discussion will be Dec. 15, on The Warmth of Other Suns, a highly acclaimed historical study by Isabel Wilkerson.

Subtitled The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, the book follows three different people’s experiences to tell the story of African Americans’ movement out of the South to the Midwest, North and West, from approximately 1915 to 1970.

The second film viewing and discussion will take place Jan. 19, 2017, on Pinky.

Pinky is a 1949 feature film about a light-skinned African-American woman who passes for white while studying in the North, and faces racism and prejudice when she returns home to visit the grandmother who raised her.

Kauffman Museum has a temporary reading library where copies of Underground Railroad and The Warmth of Other Suns are available for reading on-site when the museum is open.

All book and film discussions are open to the public.

Pamela Pancake, Kauffman Museum’s academic and community engagement coordinator, says the particular hope is to “involve college and high school students in these important discussions on African American life, history, culture and future.”

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (extended hours to 8 p.m. on third Thursdays), and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the current special exhibition “Memory Matters: Works by Gesine Janzen” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/, or Facebook page.

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