- Art and Culture
- Special Issues
“Man on Fire,” a documentary film about a retired white preacher’s radical act of self-immolation to protest racism against African-Americans in a small Texas town, will be screened at a Community Forum at Chalice Unitarian Universalist in Newbury Park on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
The film examines the life of the Rev. Charles Moore and the impact of the 79-year-old Methodist minister’s death in 2014 in his hometown of Grand Saline, Texas. The film’s director, Joel Fendelman, says on the film’s website that while he and others question why Rev. Moore chose such an extreme measure of protest, he hopes it will spark a conversation about the reality of racism in America.
The film paints a portrait of an all-white Texas town, well-known for its racism, where African-Americans from nearby communities feared to visit. On-screen interviews with officials and citizens of Grand Saline show many asserting that virulent racism is a thing of the past there while others acknowledge the town’s hostility toward people of color. Some wonder about Rev. Moore’s mental state and whether his self-immolation made a difference. The clergyman’s passion for justice is portrayed, and it’s left to the viewer to sift through the aftermath of his self-immolation.
“Regardless of how you feel about Moore’s death, one can’t help but see the country’s struggle to come to terms with issues of race and racism, both in its past and in its present, reflected though the residents of Grand Saline,” Chris McGuinness wrote in his film review for San Luis Obispo New Times.
The Rev. Rick Pearson, pastor of The Garden Church (North Oxnard United Methodist Church), will lead a discussion following the screening. His church forged a relationship with Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oxnard after a white supremacist murdered nine people during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015. Pearson reached out to Bethel AME to express condolences, and the two congregations held a joint worship service in the fall of 2015. Since then, the churches have maintained ties to each other by organizing joint Bible study and worship services.
The program at Chalice Unitarian Universalist, 3327 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park, is open to the public and free; donations are welcome. For information, visit forum.chaliceuu.org or contact Pamela Lopez through the church office at (805) 498-9548.