Filmmaker Shakti Butler Speaks on Racial Inequity at MLK Celebration

Filmmaker, lecturer and social justice activist Shakti Butler delivered they keynote address at Wesleyan's Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Feb. 1. “Diversity University: From Theory to Practice,” was the theme of this year’s daylong commemoration. (Photo by Gabe Rosenberg '16)

Filmmaker, lecturer and social justice activist Shakti Butler delivered the keynote address at Wesleyan’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Feb. 1. “Diversity University: From Theory to Practice,” was the theme of this year’s daylong commemoration. Butler is the founder of World Trust Services, a nonprofit organization that produces programs and seminars to create new understandings. (Photo by Gabe Rosenberg ’16)

Butler is a multiracial African-American woman with African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish heritage.  She is the producer and director of four groundbreaking documentaries, including "Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity," which uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity. Butler showed "Cracking the Codes" during her visit at Wesleyan.

Butler is a multiracial African-American woman with African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish heritage. She is the producer and director of four groundbreaking documentaries, including “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity,” which uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity. Butler showed “Cracking the Codes” during her visit at Wesleyan.

During a workshop led by Shakti Butler, Evan Weber '13 and Ibironke Otusile '15 spoke to each other about ways history and culture help identify who they are as individuals.

During a workshop led by Shakti Butler, Evan Weber ’13 and Ibironke Otusile ’15 spoke to each other about ways history and culture help identify who they are as individuals.

"You're born into a system that you didn't create. To you, you're living in a world that's normal," Butler said. "We need to understand that oppression is a system and it's our role to create a system in which everyone can survive."

“You’re born into a system that you didn’t create. To you, you’re living in a world that’s normal,” Butler said. “We need to understand that oppression is a system and it’s our role to create a system in which everyone can survive.” (Photos by Olivia Drake)

For more than a decade Wesleyan has celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The celebration has taken various forms including prominent keynote speakers such as Johnetta Cole and Sonia Sanchez to a campus-based program where members of the faculty, staff and students read portions of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Learn more about Shakti Butler and Wesleyan’s annual celebration online here.

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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