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Filmmaker Yoruba Richen will present her film "The New Black" as the 2014 Colliver Lecture.

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Filmmaker Yoruba Richen is the 2014 Colliver Lecturer

Richen will present her documentary "The New Black" and answer questions on November 3, 2014.
Oct 20, 2014

What happens when issues of race, politics, and sexual orientation not only intersect, but collide?

This was the question facing many African-American voters in Maryland in 2012, when ballot measure Question 6, which sought to legalize gay marriage, came to a vote. The struggles navigated by the activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign, from pulpits to kitchen tables, are chronicled in filmmaker Yoruba Richen's award-winning documentary, "The New Black."

The film will be screened Monday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. in the DeRosa University Center Ballroom as the 2014 Colliver Lecture. Richen will be on hand to introduce the film and participate in a question-and-answer session afterward. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Colliver Lecture Series was established in 1957 to honor the memory of George Colliver, a religious studies professor at Pacific. Sponsored by the department of Religious Studies, the series brings a diverse array of speakers to campus to discuss aspects of religion in society.

"The New Black" examines homophobia in the black community's institutional pillar-the black church - as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland. For Alan Lenzi, associate professor of Religious Studies, the relevance of the film is clear.

"Given the current political climate, this film has greater significance beyond just what happened in Maryland," said Lenzi, who first learned of "The New Black" through social media and was struck by its timeliness.  "Identities are complex things. We are all situated in communities that shape our sense of identity, and most of us are a part of multiple communities-churches, clubs, political organizations, charities, and the like. Sometimes the ideals in one or more of these communities conflict, which may result in a conflicted personal identity for some people belonging to these groups. I hope that this film and the conversation that follows will allow our audience to challenge simplistic notions of political and religious discourse, and how they inform our personal identity."

Past Colliver Lecture speakers have included author and early Christianity scholar Candida Moss; former National Public Radio correspondent and atheist Margot Adler; Muslim feminist and former Wall Street Journal Reporter Asra Nomani; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gary Wills, among others.

"We are not advocating for any one political position or religious belief," Lenzi said.  "I am hoping our students will have the opportunity to see civic engagement and civil discourse modeled in the discussion that follows the film, and to come away better equipped to think for themselves about a very complex and divisive issue."

For more information regarding Richen and "The New Black," visit

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