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Humanities festival shapes culture in STL

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prisonCelebrating arts and culture is what we’re all about here at the UNews Arts desk, but we’re not the only ones. The humanities shape cultures; they define and explain generations and populations. April 1-6, the Missouri Humanities Council is partnering with the International Institute to celebrate the annual Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival. With this year’s theme “Migration and Mobility,” they’ll be sharing stories of immigration through literature and film, history and politics.
Events are happening all over the city throughout the week. Starting on April 1, you can choose between two events. I would recommend making your decision based on convenience of location as both are at 7:00 p.m. and both sound fascinating. At the Missouri History Museum you can catch a screening of Homeland: Immigration in America followed by a panel discussion including the film’s producer. This documentary was made in conjunction with the 2012 election to encourage informed voting and critical thought about immigration policy. It touches on stories of the experience of immigrants living in the U.S., as well as U.S. citizens exploring what immigrants in this country means to them and their way of life.
Meanwhile, you can hear from internationally-acclaimed Canadian author and editor Gary Geddes, as he reads some of his many stories and poems about the effects of violent war and conflict on individuals, families and communities. Geddes has traveled the world witnessing places ridden with social and political unrest, connecting with refuges along the way. Walking Wounded: Migration, Displacement and the Long Road Home will be held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
With immigration policy being a particularly hot topic these days, Thinking About Movement is sure to be informative and engaging, whether you think you could stand to learn more about the issue or you’ve already formed a strong opinion. This conference will span over two days at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, closing with a debate on April 3 at 7:00 p.m. between prominent political commentator and media personality, James Carville and former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Just down the street from SLU, the Stage at KDHX will be showing a selected-scenesviewing from Prison Performing Arts’ production of Going Home on April 5 at 4:00 p.m. This drama is a compilation of stories written by inmates at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center. It looks at a form of migration that is frequent but forgotten within this country. The stories follow prisoners as they are freed from incarceration and envision their future journeys.     At the final event of the festival, the Great Migration of African Americans leaving the rural south and venturing to other regions of the U.S., will be examined by Dr. Spencer Crew. He’s built a career making history publicly accessible. His most recent project is establishing the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, which he’s been building from the ground up. Adding this history of internal migration in the U.S. to the discussion today is sure to shed light on the plight of people living similarly in this age. In Search of a Better Life: African American Migration in the Early Twentieth Century, will be held at the Missouri History Museum on April 6 at 3:00 p.m.
Most of the events comprising the Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival are free and open to the public. See for a full schedule and more details.

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