Facing the Historical Facts of Lynching: Reckoning, Mourning and Healing
Screening Howardena Pindell’s Rope/Fire/Water
7-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4
Main Building | Te Ata Theater and Founders Hall Dance Studio
Free tickets here
Join us for a screening of Howardena Pindell’s short video, Rope/Fire/Water, with guest speaker Dr. Karlos Hill, a community-engaged scholar, author and chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, followed by a community conversation about the impact of and healing from racial historical trauma with Rev. Tamara Lebak, founder of the Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma.
As a speaker, teacher and leader, Dr. Hill will share insight into the history of race and racism to not only encourage hard conversations but to empower and uplift communities who are seeking and creating lasting change. As a minister, educator and restorative practitioner, Rev. Lebak will guide us through how dehumanization, violence and alienation at any systemic level creates lasting wounds that impact entire communities.
Rope/Fire/Water ties in with Oklahoma Contemporary programming around the Tulsa Race Massacre — a horrific historical chapter that aggressive and systemic disinformation tried to erase for 80 years. This programming kicked off last April with An Evening With Fire in Little Africa. Rope/Fire/Water dovetailed with the last week of We Believed in the Sun, featuring the work of Ebony Iman Dallas and Ron Tarver; runs concurrent with Crystal Z Campbell: Flight; and closes with this public program.
About Dr. Karlos Hill
Dr. Hill is the author of three groundbreaking books: Beyond The Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History and The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History. Dr. Hill serves as chair and associate professor of the Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Hill founded the Tulsa Race Massacre Oklahoma Teachers Summer Institute to teach the history of the 1921 Race Massacre to thousands of middle and high school students. Hill also serves on the boards of the Clara Luper Legacy Committee and the Board of Scholars for Facing History and Ourselves and is actively engaged in other community initiatives working toward racial reconciliation and repair.
Dr. Hill has been a featured expert on Vox’s Juneteenth documentary short and has been interviewed on national media, including CNN, Time, and USA Today to help frame current national protests against police violence. He continues to contribute historical perspective to journalistic and storytelling projects, articles and videos. He regularly gives talks for organizations, as well as at universities and community events.
About Rev. Tamara Lebak
Rev. Tamara Lebak is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, chaplain, coach, mother, wife, author, singer-songwriter and restorative practitioner. Rev. Lebak is currently working on her doctorate at Phillips Theological Seminary.
She is the founder of the Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma, where she strives to help people know that they are not the worst thing they have ever done nor the worst thing that has ever happened to them. The Restorative Justice Institute seeks to transform the retributive and inequitable culture of Oklahoma through a trauma-informed, developmental, equitable and systemic approach.
Howardena Pindell’s short video, Rope/Fire/Water, is a haunting distillation of historical data and statistics related to lynching and racist attacks. It opens with a personal memory from her childhood but proceeds without further personal comment as she reads — without inflecting her tone with sentiment — short excerpts from historical text. The bibliographical citations simply read out before each excerpt places an emphasis on historical fact. In reciting this history, the video is a closure for the artist and a reckoning for the public whom she hopes would be moved by it. In “The Story of American Racism This Artist Couldn’t Tell in the 1970s” in Zora, Pindell told Brianna Holt that the video serves as a way for her to speak to the lynched man in a photograph she saw as a child, to say to the victim, “You did not die alone. Hundreds of people, maybe in time thousands, will know what happened to you and mourn your death along with the other thousands who were lynched.”