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St. Albert Library Holds Black History Month Watch Parties

Clips from the 1998 documentary Show Girls

By Jared Gomes

In honour of black history month, the St. Albert library is hosting virtual watch parties. They have been going on throughout the month of February and the final party is on Friday Feb 26.

“The expectation pretty much was to bring people together to celebrate black history month so we hit that marker no problem,” said Geoff Manderscheid, Library assistant.

How it works is everyone joins a zoom call and watches a movie together. After it is complete, it’s followed by a discussion between the audience and hosts.

The most interesting thing about the watch parties is not only the film presented each week but the special hosts to talk about the film. They have had hosts, this month, such as Helen Agbonison the founder of African and African descendants friendship club in St. Albert, Marilyn McGreer an academic writer, and for this final event, Celine Caruso Dixon the President of the Black Students’ Association at the University of Alberta.

“Folks in the chat can get in on the conversation. That’s what makes the watch parties, a party. We’re doing it through Zoom so we’re screening the film and at the same time everyone can talk in the chat,” said Manderscheid.

During these times, the library has had to change their usual programming in order to still involve the community and keep everyone safe.

This is not their first time holding an event like this. They held watch parties in the fall but have improved this time around. Now they are using Zoom Webinar which allows the hosts to present but stops unwanted interruptions.

“I think this is one of those things where you’re trying to find where you can meet people where they’re at and everyone’s in their homes. So, how do you get into people’s homes?” Manderscheid said.

“We traditionally were about a space and being at places in the community physically,” said Manderscheid.
There are a lot of important messages in these films. They discuss them during the watch parties and answer questions asked along the way.

“If you know what happened in the past you have a better understanding of where we’re at today, because the past doesn’t repeat itself, but it looks awfully familiar. You’ll see that in some of the themes in these movies,” said Manderscheid.

To be a part of the upcoming watch party go to www.sapl.ca to register for the event on Friday February 26. Registering is mandatory as there are only 100 spots available.

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