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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU's Avi Santo to Appear Sunday Morning on Public Radio Program

Old Dominion University's Avi Santo will appear on the public radio program "With Good Reason" this weekend to speak about the groundbreaking multi-media project he organized in response to the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking, but racially charged, film "Birth of a Nation."

Santo, director of the University's Institute of the Humanities and an associate professor of communication, will appear on the broadcast entitled "Stars for Freedom," which also features interviews about the history of Hollywood and the civil rights movement. The show airs at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22 on WHRV-FM 89.5, and on other public radio stations across the state and in more than 50 markets nationwide.

Broadcast times for the show are posted on the With Good Reason website.

To say that the 1915 D.W. Griffith film "Birth of a Nation" changed the face of American cinema would not be an understatement. Not only did Griffith introduce many of the storytelling conventions that would become synonymous with Hollywood, but the film also popularized many of the prejudicial tropes that shaped representations of African Americans in popular culture - and negatively impacted the experiences and opportunities of real African Americans - for decades.

Earlier this year, Old Dominion University received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to help produce a multi-media project "Birth of an Answer," led by Santo. It is a response to "Birth of a Nation" 100 years later, and includes the screening of an ambitious short film, "Our Nation," which tells the fictional story of a young African American teenager's response to seeing Birth of a Nation in Norfolk, Virginia in 1915.

The evening of music, discussion and the debut of the short film produced by the Old Dominion University Film program, seeks to generate dialog between past and present African American creative and recreational practices, by recreating the experience of going to the cinema 100 years ago.

It is scheduled for two nights:

  • September 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Attucks Theatre, 1010 Church Street in Norfolk; and
  • September 21 at 8 p.m. at the Chandler Recital Hall at Old Dominion University.

For more about the event, including ticketing information, visit the Birth of an Answer website.

Hosted by Sarah McConnell, "With Good Reason" is produced by the Charlottesville-based Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show was created more than 20 years ago to spotlight the groundbreaking research being done at Virginia's public universities.

Faculty members are encouraged to join the "With Good Reason" Facebook page and subscribe to the Podcast where the "Birth of an Answer" show will be available, starting next week.

"With Good Reason" has twice won the Gabriel Award for Best Documentary/Public Affairs Program. It also is the recipient of top honors from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters and won a second-place award in the Public Radio News Directors competition.

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