GRAMBLING, LA (KSLA) - Grambling State University is hosting a town hall and documentary screening Monday about the formation and contributions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities also known as HBCUs.
The event will be at Eddie G. Robinson Museum on campus at 6 p.m. Seating is limited so students and members of the community interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP here.
The film, "Tell Them We Are Rising", focuses on the importance of HBCUs.
"One of the things the film does is it tells this long history of black colleges. So we start before the Civil War and go to today," said the director of the documentary Stanley Nelson.
"People may know a little bit about their college, a college in their town or colleges near them, but no body's put this kind of history together before," said Nelson.
Joyce Evans is a Grambling State University alumna who now she serves as the station manager for the school's radio station, KGRM.
"We got to always be here so that we can help young people out, train them. Cause you see we want them to graduate and start paying taxes so we can retire," said Evans.
She says she doesn't think she would have finished school if she hadn't have gone to an HBCU.
"I don't see why we have the discussions about the relevance of an HBCU and if we need HBCUs. Of course, we need HBCUs. Everybody's not the same," said Evans
That's a sentiment echoed in the documentary. The film will be shown as part of a town hall event, followed by a live discussion to talk about the history of achievement and culture from HBCUs.
"To dismiss that as irrelevant in these times I think is a mistake. And so I think this event gives us an opportunity to sort of un-pack some of that and to talk about why it continues to matter," said The Department Head for Mass Communication at Grambling Robbie Morganfield.
Morganfield will serve as a panelist during the discussion. He says he is hoping the event will be a wake-up call to let students know they are the voices and faces of what it means to be an HBCU.
"I think sometimes you can be so close to something and you sort of know intuitively why it matters, but until you stop and you take the time to really reflect and think and talk about it, you sometimes miss some parts of that," said Morganfield.
He also hopes the event will help students get a deeper understanding of their school. Something Junior Kaylyn Johnson says she's looking forward to.
"At first I just only used to know about the rivalry with Grambling vs Southern, and going to the games and the events and stuff," said Johnson. "But now actually getting here and getting to actually experience it is amazing."
Johnson says she plans on attending and telling her friends.
Student Body President for Grambling, Adarian Williams will serve as the moderator for the town hall.
"Once students get more aquatinted with why they were formed and what role HBCUs play in the world today, they will be able to gain more of an appreciation and I guess work harder as a student to strengthen the HBCU experience," said Williams.
Although the event will be at Grambling State University, they are also putting it on in partnership with Southern University.
For anyone who misses the screening, Nelson said it will also air on PBS on February 19.