This past Tuesday, September 9, I was invited to participate–along with Traces of the Trade co-producer Juanita Brown–in a day of activities focused on Traces and Inheriting the Trade at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. The day’s activities were co-sponsored by the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender in the Arts & Media, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, the Center for Teaching Excellence and Critical Encounters.

The program is called Citizen Movement. Columbia College uses performance and film to investigate relationships between creativity, activism, politics, and history. Citizen Movement uses three documentary films as catalysts to mine the impulses of human convictions and the impact of our actions on social systems.

The folks at Columbia College planned our day well. I appreciate it when an organization utilizes our time effectively to support their work. Juanita and I met in the morning for close to two hours with first year students in a course titled New Millennium Studies: The First Year Seminar, which is the foundation of Columbia College Chicago’s Liberal Arts and Sciences core curriculum. These first-year students watched Traces the week before and were well-prepared for an engaging and lively discussion.

In the afternoon we met with a graduate-level documentary filmmaking class. The focus here went beyond the themes of Traces and Inheriting into the process of filmmaking from both the production side–primarily Juanita’s perspective–and that of a participant–me. This class was definitely a change of pace from conversations we normally have about race, privilege and the legacy of slavery. It was rewarding to discuss this side of the filmmaking process with students who are in the process of embarking on their own documentary projects. I look forward to seeing their work in the future.

After the screening of the film in the evening Juanita and I participated in a moderated conversation led by Cadence Wynter, a faculty member at Columbia College. The questions were rich and most of the 75+ people who attended the screening remained for the full hour’s discussion afterward. Juanita and I stayed after to talk with folks and I signed copies of Inheriting the Trade. We then went out for a late dinner with several faculty members. What a full and rich day!

Many thanks to Lott Hill, Jane Saks, Sara Slawnik, Kevin Fuller, Alycia Scot, Joan Giroux, and Steph–whose last name I didn’t get but who we know performed some fancy footwork (had to get a dance metaphor in here, right?) in helping to arrange the details of Juanita’s and my visit. We hope to work with Columbia College Chicago in the future…