“Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism” will screen Tuesday, Dec. 2, at Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The free event also features the participation of several well-known figures.
“Beneath the Skin,” released by EthicsDaily.com in October, shows that racism is far from eradicated—inside or outside the church—but it also highlights how many Baptists are working together in proactive ways to break down the racial and ethnic walls of division and to be faithful to the Bible’s moral vision.
The 35-minute DVD screening will form the centerpiece of a larger program managed by CBF of Arkansas.
Following the screening will be a panel discussion moderated by Marion Humphrey, a circuit judge and Presbyterian minister.
The panel will include Fitz Hill, president of Arkansas Baptist College and a DVD interviewee. Hill was formerly head football coach at San Jose State University and will soon release his book CrackBack! Throwing a Flag on the College Football Forces That Blindside Black Coaches.
Joining Hill on the panel will be Mark DeYmaz, pastor of MosaicChurch in Little Rock and a recognized leader in the multi-racial/multi-ethnic church planting movement; Sybil Hampton, president emeritus of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; and Mary Ferguson, a longtime advocate for race relations work in Arkansas.
The program will also feature a special presentation by Steven Arnold, senior pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, about St. Mark’s current ministry partnerships. St. Mark is the largest African-American church in Arkansas.
The event will take place only a couple of miles away from the historic Central High School—site of the 1957 Little Rock school integration crisis.
“This conversation could not happen at a more appropriate time in our community and in our nation,” wrote Ray Higgins, coordinator of CBF of Arkansas, in an e-mail to constituents. “We need mutual understanding, mutual respect, mutual friendships, and ministry partnerships that advance the common good and the Kingdom of God as we live and serve as the presence of Christ in our community.”
Higgins also situated the event “in the spirit of the New Baptist Covenant.” The New Baptist Covenant gathering took place Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2008, and brought together several dozen Baptist organizations in North America—representing black, brown and white memberships—to foster new partnerships and a renewed commitment to social justice.
“Beneath the Skin” earned the “Best Documentary” award at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville in October. It received a special showing at the Southern Appalachian International Film Festival on Nov. 14 and will also screen at the Cine-Fest Film Festival in Louisville on Dec. 6.
“Beneath the Skin” considers past mistakes and future challenges regarding racial unity and social justice. From the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the current immigration debate, “Beneath the Skin” peels back prejudices and confronts them with biblical mandates. Interviewees come from nearly a dozen states and represent the best in Baptist life, including: preacher and activist Will Campbell, Aidsand Wright-Riggins of American Baptist Churches USA, and Javier Elizondo of Baptist University of the Americas.
The DVD, which comes with two versions, four “featurettes” and a free, downloadable study guide, is available for purchase by churches, libraries and individuals.
Cliff Vaughn is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.