WOUB and Institute For Storytelling to Present ‘Emanuel’ Feb. 23 For OHIO Challenging Dialogues Event

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The Ohio University Scripps College of Communication’s Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact is collaborating with WOUB Public Media to virtually present a screening of Emanuel as a part of President Duane Nellis’ fifth OHIO Challenging Dialogues lecture on Tuesday, February 23 at 7 p.m.

Emanuel is a documentary executive produced by OHIO alumnus Dane Smith (BSC ’84) chronicling the heartbreaking aftermath of the deadly 2015 white supremacist mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.

The event will be live streamed, and after the conclusion of the 75-minute film, Smith will engage in a dialogue with family members of the church members who lost their lives at the hands of white supremacist Dylann Roof.

The voices of luminaries such as Booker T. Washington, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Reverend Wyatt T. Walker have reverberated throughout Mother Emanuel, which has served as a site of African American political and social organization since opening its doors in 1817.

Roof attacked Mother Emanuel during a June 17, 2015 Bible study, brutally killing nine members of the church. The church was targeted by Roof because of its enormous significance to Black Americans.

Roof’s attack stunned the nation. When family members of Roof’s victims tearfully and publicly forgave Roof at his bond hearing several days following June 17, the nation was bewildered further, many press outlets jumping on the chance to focus on the incredible demonstration of mind-boggling compassion while overlooking the deep roots of racism in Charleston and the nation as a whole that ultimately fueled Roof’s horrific actions.

“Dylann Roof’s vision of trying to create a race war was perfectly suited to happen Charleston, yet it didn’t,” Smith said. “We thought that it was a story that had to be told — something really miraculous and not of this world happened there, and we needed to go find out about it and see if the families and survivors would be willing to allow us to have the gift of telling their story.”


Smith and the rest of the Emanuel production crew worked closely with the survivors of the attack and the families of those who lost their lives to craft a poignant documentary that tells an enormously meaningful story that Smith hopes “connects all of us, as citizens of the world.”

Emanuel is about the miracle of radical forgiveness the families of the victims exhibited – but it’s also an incredibly meaningful story about diversity, inclusion, bridge-building,” he said. “It’s a powerful story to strike conversation and inspire people to discuss things that may be challenging and difficult.”

Lynn Harter, Co-Director of the Storytelling Institute, said Emanuel is a natural fit for OHIO’s Challenging Dialogue series because of its potential to spark such conversations.

“OHIO Challenging Dialogues offers a space for meaningful conversation around the salient issues of our time. I think few challenges are as seemingly intractable in the U.S. as systemic racism, racial violence, and the importance of race relations,” said Harter. “(Emanuel) is not a comfortable film to watch, but it’s an important film to watch; and to do so during Black history month.”

For more information on the series and to view previous presentations, visit this link. To register for the Feb. 23 event, click here.