by Stephen Dafoe
Although his life was immortalized by Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Josiah Henson’s life story was mostly lost to history. Jared A. Brock’s documentary Josiah brings new light and attention to Henson and his work.
The Morinville Community Library will host a public screening of Josiah, a documentary tracing the journey of Josiah Henson from slavery in Maryland and Kentucky to freedom in Canada.
Henson spent 41 years as a slave and is said to be “a dynamic, driven man with unyielding principles.” Henson overcame incredible odds to escape slavery and improve the lives of hundreds of freed people.
Library Program Coordinator Stacey Buga said the Josiah Project offered the library a discount on a public screening of the documentary if it coincided with the release of the new book The Road to Dawn: Josiah Henson and the Story That Sparked the Civil War.
The Morinville Community Library will use the documentary as the subject of the next Adult Learning Circle, using the same discussion format as their Indigenous Canada program, which recently won two provincial awards.
“Talking about Canada’s history when it comes to slavery and racism is important,” Buga said. “Libraries have a duty to protect history from being forgotten, and this film tells the story of Josiah Henson from a Canadian point of view.”
Buga said Josiah fits well into the library’s new series of adult learning programs, an initiative that provides the opportunity for free education to adults in the area to open minds and promote life-long learning.
She is hoping all adults will come to the May 30 screening to learn a bit about Canada’s history, and to engage in discussion.
“The purpose of the Learning Circle format is to work through difficult issues together in a supportive environment,” Buga said.
The event takes place at the library May 30th, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. The event is free for library card holders.