‘The Contradictions of Fair Hope’: The Consequences of Disregarding Cultural History

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On Friday, August 11th, the Head and Heart Philanthropy Summit, a gathering of philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and foundation and nonprofit leaders, partnered with Run & Shoot Filmworks and the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival to present The Color of Conversation: A Screening of “The Contradictions of Fair Hope.” The film showed to a standing room only crowd at The Harborview Hotel in Edgartown, MA.

Attendees had the opportunity to view the feature film, the first from Executive Producers and Co-Directors S. Epatha Merkerson and Rockwell Metcalf, which shares the history of African American benevolent societies, charitable organizations primarily started post civil war to provide a way for members to give aid to others, such as tending to their sick and burying the dead.

The documentary then zeroes in on the Fair Hope Benevolent Society of Uniontown, Alabama, one of the last benevolent societies still in existence, and introduces viewers to a cast of characters determined to keep the tradition alive.

But all is not what it seems. What starts out as a journey into Fair Hope’s annual social gathering where one could find fellowship, a swig of moonshine in the back woods and fried fish sandwiches soon morphs into a tale about the “Foot Wash,” where tens of thousands now “religiously” convene for an entirely different type of ritual – a shocking turn of events that tarnishes its legacy.

The film, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and geared towards mature audiences, covers an array of intricate subject matters ranging from race, politics, economic disparity, generational indifference, religion, overt sexuality and even self-ignorance. It is a thought provoking piece which serves as a cautionary tale that being unaware of or disregarding one’s cultural history can lead to tragic and detrimental results.

Read more: Black Gives Back

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