October -November 2020

All programs streaming on vsw.org


  • The Rochester chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign and the VSW Film Series are pleased to present this streaming program, Why We March: Moving for Change. This program focuses on the act of organized marching as a form of political protest from the 1960’s to today. Featuring films from the VSW archive as well as a recent video by filmmaker/activists Peter Kinoy, Rashaad Parker and Martin Hawk, this screening aims to answer the question “Why do we march?” and motivate participation in organized acts of peaceful protest.

    Martin Luther King, Jr: From Montgomery to Memphis (1970) Director: Dan McCarroll. Documentary film portraying Martin Luther King’s rise to leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

    26:42 Empire State Rumblings (2019) Director: Peter Kinoy. Chronicles the NYS Poor People’s Campaign through Spring 2018’s Forty Days of Action, when poor people gathered in Albany to confront the government and make their voices heard.

    57:00 Rochester Anti-war Rally (excerpts) (1972) Producers: Sanford Rockowitz and Portable Channel. Street interviews with protestors and police during a Vietnam/Kent State demonstration.

    01:06:34 Roc City Speaks (2020) Director: Rashaad Parker. Interviews with protestor participants in Rochester’s current police brutality protests.

    01:23:55 Pressure Gradient (A Litany for Survival) (2020) Director: Martin Hawk. Dramatic and spirited footage from Rochester’s recent protest marches.

  • The New Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC) picks up from 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination put an end to his Poor People’s Campaign. Fifty years later the need for social change is at least as strong, and crowds are listening, learning, working together, and marching. As more individuals are awakening to the cruelties in our society that so many have suffered for so long, we realize the need for change is real and it’s urgent. This is the moment and this is the time. 

    When we look back, we see people calling for the same changes that we demand now. We had thought that if others could see these injustices, could see the suffering and the need, they would rise up. It did not happen that way. 

     This month, PPC and VSW are showing films about movements for change, past and present. What did those movements look like? What did they accomplish and where did they fall short? How did they—and we—take the impulse to march and focus it to bring about lasting and significant change? 

    We’re not just interested in simply showing you movies. We want you to become engaged and consider what you can do to make real change happen. There will be links to a page for your thoughts and analyses.

    And if you are compelled to act, we want to consider the human cost of this work. How can we care for ourselves without running from the struggle? How can we fight an inhuman system without losing our humanity?

    This film program, curated by PPC and VSW, combines contemporary works with archival footage of protest movements rooted in the act of gathering, raising voices and peacefully marching in political protest. By overlapping the past with the present a pattern emerges, resulting in a portrait of activism that is as powerful as it is peaceful, and yet – consistently – involves confrontation with the police. In this program, we will hear the voices of a diverse group of leaders and participants who speak their truths and refuse to be intimidated as they move forward, marching for change.