SHEBOYGAN — Civil rights champion Whitney Young, Jr., is the subject of The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights, a new documentary in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s free Community Cinema series.
Screening times are 7 PM on Tuesday, February 12 and 12 PM on Wednesday, February 13.
During the 1960s, as the executive director of the National Urban League, Young was one of the few African Americans who had the ears of those who controlled the levers of power: Fortune 500 CEOs, governors, senators, and presidents. He used these relationships to foster significant change in civil rights. His unique position and approach earned him praise, but also scorn for being too close to the white establishment.
“I realized several years ago at a family gathering that while I knew Uncle Whitney through my personal relationship with him, my appreciation and understanding of his role in the Civil Rights movement was not all that different from the general public’s, which is to say, somewhat limited,” said Bonnie Boswell, Young’s niece and the film’s executive producer. “I decided to make this film… because I believe his story can teach us today about what it takes to make a democracy work.”
A discussion of the issues raised in the film will follow each screening. Dr. Robert Samuel Smith, PhD, will lead the Tuesday discussion; Wednesday’s facilitator has yet to be announced. Smith has chronicled the efforts of grassroots civil rights activists who used Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to garner better jobs and long-overdue promotions in his book Race, Labor and Civil Rights: Griggs v. Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity.
Smith teaches African American history, the history of African Americans and the law, as well as a more general course on U.S. legal history at UW-Milwaukee.
The Community Cinema series is free and open to the public.
Film screenings are in the Theatre at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, located at 608 New York Avenue in Sheboygan.