Past Event

Civic Cinema: Iron Ladies of Liberia

Join us for the Chicago premiere of the acclaimed documentary Iron Ladies of Liberia. The film chronicles the first year in office of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state and gives an insider’s account of reclaiming democracy from dictatorship and creating equality out of a history of oppression and misogyny.

After the film, there will be a discussion on gender, democracy, and civil strife in Africa and beyond with Martha Biondi, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Northwestern University; Lynette Jackson, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and African American Studies the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Professor of African American Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prexy Nesbitt, speaker and educator on Africa, foreign policy, and racism, will introduce the film and moderate the discussion.

The panelists will connect the events in Liberia to the current electoral crisis in Kenya, as well as the current political campaign in the United States. What are the difficulties inherent in creating and sustaining democracy? What lessons can be learned from the presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf? How does the current electoral crisis in Kenya echo some of the problems that Liberia has successfully resolved?

Martha Biondi
is an Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University. She specializes in 20th century African American history, with a focus on social movements, politics, ideology and protest. Her book To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City was published in 2003 by Harvard University Press. She is currently writing a book on the struggle for Black Studies on American campuses from 1967 to 1977, highlighting the role of both student and scholar activists.

Lynette Jackson is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Associate Head and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the African American Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jackson is the author of Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe (Cornell University Press 2005) and has written extensively on topics of gender, sexuality and health in African history. Her current work explores the gender politics of displacement, focusing on child refugees from Sudan.

Prexy Nesbitt is an activist and educator whose work over the past four decades has been connecting freedom-loving peoples in Africa, Europe and North America to each other, to strengthening progressive political and social movements on both continents. He has authored many articles and a small book, Apartheid in Our Living Rooms: US Foreign Policy and South Africa. Nesbitt is currently teaching African History at Columbia College in Chicago, co-teaching and facilitating at the Urban Studies Program of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and consulting on Africa and African constituency-building for the American Friends Service Committee in both Philadelphia and Chicago.

Paul Tiyambe Zeleza was recently appointed Professor and Head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before this appointment he was Professor of African Studies and History at Pennsylvania State University, and also served as Professor of History and African Studies and Director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in African economic, social and intellectual history, as well as development studies, gender studies, and diaspora studies.

This program is co-sponsored by The Public Square at the IHC, ITVS, the Chicago Cultural Center, Independent Lens, WTTW Channel 11, and CARE USA.

This event is part of The Public Square at the IHC‘s Civic Cinema program, a series of films, forums, and conversations that uses the most exceptionally creative and engaging documentary films of our times as a springboard for talking about some of the most pressing and challenging social issues facing us.

For more information, call 312.422.5580. Reservations are required. The film runs approximately 55 minutes.