The one-hour PBS documentary special Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness profiles a town standing together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates their community and thrusts them into the international media spotlight. In conjunction with the September 21 broadcast of the film, all libraries are invited to use the film and accompanying resources for free public programs events in September and beyond. ALA Annual Conference attendees can enjoy a sneak preview: stop by Auditorium C on Monday, June 27, at 9 a.m. to catch this new film and talk with Not In Our Town representative Libby McInerny about public programs opportunities.
In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents in Patchogue, New York, ended with the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the village for thirteen years. Seven local high school students arrested for the crime admitted they were “looking for a Mexican” to beat up. Over a two-year period, Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness follows Mayor Paul Pontieri; the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero; and diverse community stakeholders—including local librarians—as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and initiate ongoing actions to ensure everyone in the village will be safe and respected. Library Journal’s 2011 Paralibrarian of the Year, Gilda Ramos, is featured in the film, along with other Patchogue-Medford librarians.
As the Patchogue story demonstrates, hate is a community challenge, not simply a criminal issue. Across the country, public libraries play an important part in building safe, inclusive communities. They are neutral spaces where everyone is safe and welcome, and they provide immigrant residents a vital link to the community. A local public library screening of Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness can help launch community discussions about how to prevent intolerance and effectively respond to threats together.
On September 18–24, during the Not In Our Town Week of Action, communities nationwide will gather for local screenings and other activities to explore how individual residents, civic leaders, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders can work together to promote and maintain safe, inclusive environments. But that is only the beginning! The Week of Action launches a multiyear campaign—so get involved!
Here are four ways libraries can participate:
- Schedule a screening and discussion of Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness at your library during Not In Our Town Week of Action.
- Encourage community partners to host screening events at your library in September and beyond.
- Promote and participate in a “One Community/Once Book” Club.
- Email your ideas, stories, and event announcements. They will be added to the project website, and your library might be featured in a future Not In Our Town video story.
The DVD request form and other resources, including “One Community/Once Book” Club suggested book titles, will be available shortly on the project website. To submit an early request for the film and accompanying resources now, please email us.
Not In Our Town highlights stories of communities taking positive action to fight hate. Since 1995, the Not In Our Town and Not In Our School initiatives have used public media documentaries together with grassroots organizing, educational outreach, and social media to provide hundreds of communities with tools to fight hate and create safe, inclusive environments. In April 2010, the initiative launched the Not In Our Town website, a media, mapping, and social networking website that greatly expands civic engagement possibilities. The site brings Not In Our Town videos, action guides, and educational curricula to people all around the world and shares the stories of users everywhere. It promotes dialogue and collaboration, and connects isolated individuals and communities into a vital network of people saying, “Not in our town, not in our schools, not on our campus, not in our world.”