Las Cruces, NM (NMSU) — The community is invited to a free evening discussion on civil rights and activism that will feature a private screening of "The Last White Knight," by Emmy award-winning film producer and director Paul Saltzman, who also will speak at the event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at the NMSU Dona Ana Community College East Mesa Campus Auditorium.
The event is part of "Exploring Equity, Community & Hope in New Mexico," a series of three community events, hosted this spring by New Mexico State University College of Education associate professor Azadeh Osanloo, who serves as the Stan Fulton Chair for the Improvement of Border and Rural Schools.
"The Last White Knight" was inspired by an incident during the early 1960s when Paul Saltzman traveled to Mississippi as a civil rights worker to help with voter registration. He was assaulted by a group of men, including Byron "Delay" De La Beckwith, the son of the man convicted of killing civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Decades later, Saltzman returns to the South to meet with Beckwith. He interviews a wide variety of people, including Harry Belefonte, Morgan Freeman, a top FBI official, a group of kids from different races who are best friends and some dedicated Klansmen. Saltzman's talks with Beckwith form the backbone of the film that is intended to explore whether things have really changed in the South.
This film is Saltzman's second documentary to focus on civil rights in Mississippi. It premiered in 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Saltzman, who is based in Toronto, began his film career in 1965 at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He has produced numerous television shows and films during his career and in 2000, released his first book, "The Beatles in Rishikesh." His second book, "The Beatles in India," was released in 2006. In 2011, Saltzman founded the nonprofit, Moving Beyond Prejudice, to work with students, at-risk youth and community groups. He is a member of the Director's Guild of Canada and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
Osanloo said the three gatherings are intended to support the development of new relationships and networks in southern New Mexico, particularly between educators and the community, to share current experiences and collaborate in support of success for all students.
"I hope the experiences from these events is so positive that we can keep the dialogue going via a local NMSU-based conference next spring," Osanloo said.
Osanloo was named the Stan Fulton Chair in 2013. The chair was established to enhance communication among NMSU faculty, staff and students and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade constituents to improve border and rural schools. In this capacity, the chair works to expand, improve and coordinate existing outreach programs and research activities. The chair was established in 2005 and is funded in part by an endowed gift from Stan Fulton, a benefactor to the university and owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
The series of events has received support from the League of Women Voters, the NMSU College of Education's associate dean for research and NMSU's Borderlands Center for Educational Studies.