Funding to be used to produce video series on Macon’s racial history

MACON – Mercer University’s Building Beloved Community Symposium was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Griffith Family Foundation to produce a series of short videos focusing on Macon’s racial history to be shared with the community through town halls, churches, civic clubs, schools and other venues.

“The Beloved Community Symposium’s work at Mercer has found a willing partner in the Griffith Family Foundation. Our visions for pursuing racial justice and reconciliation are so closely aligned that we anticipate a pleasant and profitable collaboration,” said Dr. John Marson Dunaway, professor emeritus of French and interdisciplinary studies and founder and co-convener of the Symposium.

“The overall goal in our grant practices is guided by a belief in social justice. We believe that this video project will help to emphasize our work in promoting deeper understanding and love for our community,” added Dr. Lisa Garrett, educational grant director for the Griffith Family Foundation.

The Beloved Community Symposium contracted Macon-based And So We Go Productions to develop four to five 10-minute videos designed to spark candid, constructive conversations on race and overcoming racial division.

Dr. Matt Harper, associate professor of history and Africana studies and co-convener of the Beloved Community Symposium, will lead the project. Dr. Harper’s training and research focus on race and religion during slavery and Reconstruction.

“Short as they are, these films cannot narrate all of Macon’s history. And that’s not their point. We hope that understanding important parts of Macon’s past will give us a better perspective on our city’s present and future,” said Dr. Harper.

Videos may be filmed on location in sites associated with significant racially historic events, such as the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood, the former slave auction block on Second Street and Cotton Avenue, Linwood Cemetery and the Douglass Theater, or involve interviews with local clergy and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement.

Organizers hope to incorporate the video project into the city of Macon’s bicentennial celebration in 2023.

The Building the Beloved Community Symposium was founded by Dr. Dunaway in 2005 at Mercer as a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of the “beloved community.” Previous keynote speakers include Fred Shuttlesworth, John Perkins, James Forbes, Jim Wallis and C.T. Vivian.

The Symposium also developed its Paired Clergy Network to foster year-round collaborative efforts among congregations across racial and denominational boundaries. Paired clergy meet regularly to cultivate partnerships between their congregations, which have combined to offer after-school tutoring, mobile food pantries, COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics, as well as fellowship suppers, pulpit exchanges and field trips to civil rights sites, among other activities.

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