“13th,” a film directed by Ava Duvernay, was shown at the Wildcat Theater on Sept. 25. The Weber State University College Democrats presented the film to bring awareness of historical racial issues from the past to the present, as many of racial issues continue have come to the forefront in our society today.
Kestin Page, president of Weber State University college democrats, discussed the purpose behind putting on this event.
“13th directly confronts issues of racial inequality and how racial inequality in this country isn’t a personal thing, it is a systemic thing. This film really looks at the way that racism basically in many contexts is written in our constitution,” Page said.
Page explained how the 13th Amendment helped formally abolish slavery, yet within the second clause of the amendment it states that should a person be convicted of a crime, they can still be enslaved.
Following the film screening, there was a panel discussion to discuss racial issues in today’s society.
Those who viewed the film were able to ask three panelists questions. The panelists included Jennifer Springer, managing attorney of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center; Clemens Landau, who serves on ACLU of Utah as a legal panel representative and is a practicing appellate attorney in Salt Lake; and Forrest Crawford, a professor in the department of teaching and education at WSU.
“Several of the things that we saw in this movie were made by attorneys and made by predominantly white attorneys,” Landau said. “One of the problems of the legal profession is you see the same people going to law school because their parents went to law school and it doesn’t have to be that way.” .
The film showed scenes describing how racism had been apparent long before its entrance to the United States. Although slavery ended in 1865, this amendment put more people in prison than ever before. These mistakes made by U.S. politicians were shown in the film and discussed afterwards by the panel.
At the end of the night, the audience brought up the subject of mass incarceration. After the 13th amendment was passed, the mass incarceration rate nearly doubled in just a short period of time.
Weber State University student Maria Argyropoulou, stated her thoughts on this event at the end of the evening. She said, “This movie made me really think about how Americans perceive racism, and the way people step on other’s human rights.”
The discussion continued outside of the Wildcat Theater doors after the panel officially ended.