History is Lunch: Talamieka Brice and Kiese Laymon, “Duck Hill Lynchings: National and Local History”

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On February 9, 2022, Talamieka Brice and Kiese Laymon presented “Duck Hill Lynchings: Local and National History” as part of the History Is Lunch series.

Brice wrote and directed the film A Mother’s Journey, which tells the story of Brice’s childhood in Duck Hill and Kilmichael and explores his family history with institutional racism and oppression.

On April 13, 1937, Robert McDaniels and Roosevelt Townes, two black men accused of killing a white store owner months before, were murdered by a white mob in Duck Hill. A Grenada photographer took pictures of the men’s bodies, and these became the first lynching photographs to be published in the national press, featured in Time and Life magazines as well as national newspapers.

“The crime was integral to the formulation of an anti-lynching bill in the United States Senate and was used internationally in Nazi propaganda as criticism of American treatment of its black citizens,” said Brian. “But the violence has a personal connection for me: the torture and the killings were seen by my grandmother and happened a few meters from her house.”

After screening an excerpt from A Mother’s Journey about the Duck Hill murders, Brice and Laymon, the film’s executive producer, will discuss the lingering effects of slavery and institutional racism.

Talamieka Brice is an award-winning artist, photographer. and visual storyteller. She received her BA in Graphic Design from Jackson State University. Talamieka and her husband Charles own Brice Media, which has worked with organizations such as the United States Olympic Fencing Team and Parents for Public Schools. In 2018, they submitted the winning design for a mural at the new Barack H. Obama Magnetic School in Jackson. A Mother’s Journey is Brice’s first film.

Jackson native Kiese Laymon is the author of a novel, a collection of essays and the memoir Heavy, which won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the 2018 Audible Audiobook of the Year. Laymon is a 2020-21 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard. He received his BA from Oberlin College and his MFA from Indiana University. Laymon is the founder of the Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative, a program aimed at making children in Mississippi and their parents more comfortable reading, writing, revising, and sharing.

History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s weekly lecture series explores different aspects of the state’s past. Hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the Mississippi Museum of History and the Mississippi Museum of Civil Rights building at 222 North Street in Jackson.

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