Movies That Matter: AN OUTRAGE Documentary

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Documentary filmmakers Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren screen their documentary AN OUTRAGE, a film about lynching in the American South, and participate in an audience discussion.

Date & Time:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM


Free and Open to the Public


John Roach Center for the Liberal Arts auditorium (JRC 126)

In this Movies That Matter event, documentary filmmakers Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren screen their film, An Outrage, and participate in a discussion joined by cast member Yohuru Williams, Dean of Arts & Sciences at the University of St. Thomas.

About the Film

An Outrage is a documentary film about lynching in the American South that was directed, edited, and produced by Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren. Filmed on-location at lynching sites in six states and bolstered by the memories and perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars, this unusual historical documentary seeks to educate even as it serves as a hub for action to remember and reflect upon a long-hidden past.

Thousands of African Americans confronted, resisted, endured, and perished during the era of lynching in the American South. Beginning with the end of the Civil War and continuing well into the middle of the twentieth century, this extralegal, socially-sanctioned practice of torture and murder claimed the lives of more than 4,000 African American men, women, and children. This past is little-discussed today, even as its wounds fester.

In town squares and deep in the woods, in secret and on public display, white men, women, and children participated in the kidnapping, mutilation, and killing of African Americans said to have committed serious crimes or minor affronts on white honor. Because lynching was killing that took place outside of the legal system, accusations of wrongdoing were never argued in courts of law. (Many more African Americans were condemned through swift show trials under the guise of justice.) The innocent were murdered again and again. At the height of the lynching epidemic, in the 1890s, one African American was killed somewhere in the South every four days.

The history of lynching ought to grab us by the collar, compel us to confront fundamental truths — among them, that the present is an ongoing exchange with the past. History is not a long-distance conversation with the dead. The past is persistently present as it perpetuates the old lies of race, tribe, and hierarchy. To tell the truth, we must understand the lies — the outrages — that have produced our present moment.

This will be a long journey: it must not end. To survive and flourish together, at a time when scarcities of opportunity and civility grow ever more apparent, grace, dignity, and intention are needed — a broad-based commitment to fairness and unity.

About the Filmmakers

Hannah and Lance’s first film, That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town, won the Audience Award for Best Short Documentary at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival. An Outrage is their most recent film; it premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in March 2017. The following month, An Outrage received the Audience Award at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. In August, the film was awarded Best Documentary Short at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in Vermont. Through a partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project, An Outrage and a complementary curriculum are now available to 500,000 teachers across the United States.

While touring An Outrage, Hannah and Lance are also working on a new documentary short—The Hail-Storm: John Dabney in Virginia—funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Hannah is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, and attended the College of William & Mary and Columbia University. Her background is in history, nonprofit development, and multimedia storytelling. Previously, Hannah supported fundraising and communications efforts at the human rights video advocacy organization WITNESS.

Lance was raised in Virginia. He studied history and politics at Syracuse University and Brandeis University, focusing on civil rights and social justice in the twentieth century United States. From 2010-2016 he supported the work of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, producing online courses, video series, and virtual field trips for history teachers across the country.


This event is sponsored by Student Diversity and Inclusion Services, Student Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the American Culture & Difference program.

Parking (available for $1/hour after 4pm)

Anderson Parking Facility--located at the corner of Cretin Ave. and Grand Ave.

Morrison Parking Ramp--located beneath Morrison Residence Hall, visitors parking in the Morrison ramp should enter campus at the intersection of Selby Ave. and Finn St. Follow the drive aisle south , under the skyway, toward the stadium. Take a hard right at the end of the drive aisle. The visitor ramp entrance is the eastern entrance beneath the residence hall.

McNeely Parking Ramp--visitor parking is available at the McNeely Ramp only after 4:00 pm and on weekends. The McNeely Ramp entrance is located within parking lot K, underneath McNeely Hall.

Anderson Student Center Parking Garage--visitor parking is available at the Anderson Student Center Parking Garage only after 4:00 pm and on weekends. The Anderson Student Center Parking Garage entrance can be accessed from the Anderson Student Center turnaround off of Cretin Avenue.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.