Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Over the past few weeks a handful of people have challenged my decision to screen the film Free Angela And All Political Prisoners. They are angered that I would bring in Ms. Davis and invite her to speak afterwards. Some have even withdrawn their financial support of my organization.
When I founded The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival 13 years ago, it was to produce community events that celebrate all genres of film and spark discussion, debate, and action. I’m proud to offer our community a place to ask hard questions and enjoy spirited debate, on issues that our nation’s top pundits would prefer to wrap up with a sound bite.
We are honored that Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Charlayne Hunter-Gault will lead us in discussing a very controversial life. And we are also extremely grateful and honored that director Shola Lynch and film subjects Angela Davis and Margaret Burnham will also be attending.
I believe this will be one of the most riveting evenings of the summer. And I hope that everyone who feels strongly about Ms. Davis will join us and express their thoughts and feelings. Unlike my detractors, I do not believe in censorship.
I believe and have seen (more than once) that our community can come together in a new way around very difficult issues.
Thomas Bena, Chilmark
The writer is founder and executive director of The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.