Arts & Leisure

Racial justice themes return to Marquis with “Just Mercy”

MICHAEL B. JORDAN and Jamie Foxx star in “Just Mercy,” the latest film in Middlebury Showing Up for Racial Justice’s film series.

MIDDLEBURY — The Seeing Color/Seeking Justice Film Series, now in its third year of showing a wide array of movies pertaining to racial justice, will be presenting “Just Mercy” on Wednesday, March 11, at 1, 4, and 7 pm. at the Marquis Theater. 
The feature film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. “Just Mercy” is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson. Stevenson has assisted in cases that have saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty, advocated for the poor, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice. 
In addition to his work for criminal justice reform, Stevenson is known for creating the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. Located on the site of a former warehouse where Black people were enslaved in Montgomery, Ala., this narrative museum uses interactive media, sculpture, videography and exhibits to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the domestic slave trade, racial terrorism, the Jim Crow South, and the world’s largest prison system. 
The film series, which generally takes place on the second Wednesday of each month, is a collaboration between Middlebury’s Marquis Theater and the Middlebury chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. This month, the film is also being co-sponsored by the Rutland Area NAACP, our local chapter of the nation’s oldest civil rights advocacy group. 
The showings of “Just Mercy” will benefit a special fund to provide scholarships for Vermont students ages 16 years and older to attend the Civil Rights Freedom Tour, June 6-12, that will visit landmarks in Washington, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, including Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthplace, churches that were the sites of historic civil rights organizing, and other important monuments. 
Each month, proceeds from the screenings are directed to organizations with an anti-racism mission that are run by Black activists. The film shown in January, “Queen & Slim,” benefited Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable agriculture teaching farm that produces healthy food while advocating for marginalized communities. 
February’s showings of “Amazing Grace,” a live Aretha Franklin concert, raised funds for Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a citizen activist group based in Binghamton, N.Y. Over the past three years the film series has raised several thousand dollars for local and national civil rights groups. 
Organizers suggest a ten dollar donation, but no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. Moviegoers are welcome to drop by the theater in advance of the screening to reserve a seat. 

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