Metro-East News

Here's what you can expect at the News-Democrat's first film screening and forum

Belleville News-Democrat reporter and East St. Louis native Cara Anthony is the co-producer of “Then I Knew.”
Belleville News-Democrat reporter and East St. Louis native Cara Anthony is the co-producer of “Then I Knew.” Provided

If you’re thinking about attending the Belleville News-Democrat's first film screening, but are unsure about what to expect at the event, you’re not alone.

Talking about race and identity isn’t easy. It’s hard enough bringing those topics up at the dinner table, let alone a room full of strangers.

But it’s a conversation worth having in the metro-east as commencement approaches for the next generation of community leaders.

That’s why the News-Democrat has teamed up with the Center for Racial Harmony to host a film screening and forum on Wednesday night called “Then I Knew: A Conversation about Race, Identity and Change.”

Both organizations hope to create a safe space to talk about tough issues.

Racial Harmony’s president Alex McHugh will co-moderate the event with KMOX anchor Carol Daniel, a 34-year veteran in broadcasting. The pair coming together for this conversation represents what the forum is all about — racial harmony.

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The promotional poster for "Then I Knew"

We planned the evening with that in mind. Our community partners, including Governor French Academy, Saving Black Minds and Project Compassion, invited everyone connected to their inner circles. We asked our friends to do the same.

For example, I’m an Althoff Catholic High School graduate who grew up in the hills of East St. Louis. I attended elementary school at Zion Lutheran on Carlyle Avenue in Belleville. As a co-producer of the film and forum, I’m hoping my old classmates and former teachers from Zion and Althoff will show up, as well as my neighbors from East St. Louis.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

The film and forum is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at Belleville East High School, 2555 West Blvd., Belleville. Reservations are not required, and admission is free.

Still unsure about what to expect? Here’s everything you need to know about the film screening and forum at Belleville East:

What time should I get there?

The film screening starts at 7 p.m., but you’ll want to arrive a half hour early to see Belleville artist and metro-east resident, Kas King, paint a portrait of Dred Scott live on stage. Scott, a slave and social activist who served several masters before suing for his freedom, will be discussed during the forum.

When can I ask questions about the film?

The night will be split up into three different topics: identity, race and change. The audience will watch excerpts of the film and talk about it before moving onto the next scene. Index cards will be provided. There will also be a question-and-answer session before the forum ends.

Who will speak during the event?

Attendees will hear from Dred's Scott's great-great-granddaughter, Lynne Jackson; the Center for Racial Harmony; Charmaine Savage, the editor and founder of I am East St. Louis, The Magazine; Sharing America Editor Holly Edgell, and metro-east residents featured in the film "Then I Knew."

Does anyone care about my story?

Yes! In the online series by the News- Democrat titled “Then I Knew,” documentary journalist Julian Lim and I tackle the issues of race and identity by asking African-Americans about the first time they realized that the color of their skin could affect the way they are treated.

Color, however, isn't the only characteristic that can make someone feel isolated, scared or different. Feel free to share your '"Then I Knew" moment with others during the forum inside of a private photo booth at the event. We'll share those stories with our readers after the event.

For more information, send an email to or call 618-239-2471.