Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used news cameras as a means of exposing anti-Black violence by white mobs in the 1950s and 60s. Darnella Frazier used her phone to record and post the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin in May 2020. These are just two of many people who have captured images of injustice for the world to see.
In his book, “The Prophetic Lens: The Camera and Black Moral Agency,” Phil Allen, Jr., takes an important look at the use of the video camera as an indispensable prophetic tool for the security of Black lives and greater possibility for racial justice. Allen shows how the camera can be a catalyst for cultural change, using Walter Brueggemann’s “Prophetic Imagination” as a framework for understanding the concept of “prophetic.” Chronicling the use of the camera, particularly in film from J.D. Griffiths’ “Birth of a Nation” to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” Allen’s historical approach reveals how effective this technology has been in achieving the goals of its respective storytellers.
On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, American Public Square at Jewell hosted a conversation with Phil Allen, Jr. over cocktails from Vine Street Brewing Co. and light bites from Chef Shanita at the 2000 Vine Building in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine Jazz district.