Kevin Willmott set to speak on racism

Sarah Miller

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Kevin Willmott will give a lecture titled “Ownership, Racism, and Film” from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.

Willmott’s lecture will focus on the ownership of race and how that relates to his films. Willmott co-wrote the critically-acclaimed “BlacKkKlansman” that was first debuted on May 14 at The Cannes Film Festival where it received a 10-minute standing ovation from the audience.

You have this moment where you think about Junction City and you think about your whole ride and all the stuff that got you there. I’m probably being way too corny about it, but it was the first moment I’ve ever had anything like that. And, what made it even more powerful was it was the world saying in a way, ‘We’re with you.’ The world is sick of this,” Willmott told “In Kansas City” magazine of the experience.

Willmott has been writing and directing films for nearly 20 years. All of his films have heavy themes of racism, social justice and how these issues affect our society today. They often make commentary on racial, political and social issues that have and continue to plague America.

Willmott openly stands up and fights for the issues that matter to him. He even goes so far as to wear a bulletproof vest while he teaches his classes at the University of Kansas to protest the concealed-carry law that allows anyone with a license to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses in Kansas.

You can’t always respond in the way you want, but you respond in some way. You don’t ignore it. You don’t accept it,” Willmott said when asked by “In Kansas City” magazine about his stance and action on this issue.

Willmott also wrote and directed “C.S.A: Confederate States of America,” which is a mockumentary that wonders what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War. This film will be shown on campus Monday, Sept. 10. He also wrote “Destination Planet Negro,” which explores the differences and similarities of racism in the 1930s versus the 2000s, which will be shown Tuesday, Sept. 11. Willmott wrote and directed the documentaries, “Fast Break: The Legendary John McLendon” and “William Allen White: What’s the Matter with Kansas,” which will both be shown Wednesday, Sept. 12. Each of these films will be shown at 7 p.m. in Henderson 112 on their subsequent days.

“We wanted to bring him [Willmott] to campus to speak because throughout his career, through many mediums such as on stage and on screen, he’s been fighting for a fuller understanding of what race means for everyone and fighting for social justice,” said Tom Prasch, a history professor here at Washburn who is involved in organizing this event.

Willmott grew up and attended high school in Junction City, Kansas, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor. He is currently a professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas.

“I think he has found interesting and creative ways to think about the problems that race presents to the contemporary United States, and in provoking that, to begin to look for solutions,” Prasch said.

The lecture is free for all Washburn students, faculty and teachers. If anyone has any questions about the event they can contact Melisa Posey from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at [email protected].