Lincoln University Hosts Preview of Motion Picture ‘Harriet’

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LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – More than 800 people, including students and local residents, packed the University’s International Cultural Center Tuesday evening for a sneak preview of “Harriet,” a film that depicts the life of Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad ‘conductor.’

Dr. Brenda Allen, president of Lincoln University, with Gregory Thompson, executive director of Voices Underground speaking at the pre-screening of “Harriet.”

The film, which opens nationwide Friday, Nov. 1, stars Cynthia Erivo in the title role, along with Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr.

“I wanted to see the entire representation of the story," said Fabiola St. Luc, a first-year student studying biology from New Jersey. "At times, Hollywood doesn’t fully depict what truly happened in history. I wanted to see how they portrayed Harriet Tubman and the creators did really well and Cynthia Erivo embodied Harriet!”

Vivian Brown, a resident of Kennett Square, attended the film with friends. “This film was moving and impressive,” said Brown. “Last year, I had the opportunity to visit where Harriet [Tubman] lived in New York for a little while. This provided some context and insight into the film.”

Joseph Williams, Jr.' 68, Lincoln University trustee, and Larry Redmond, a pastor at Willowdale Chapel. 

The pre-screening was the first of many local events to be presented over the course of the next year by Voices Underground (VU), a new local initiative launched by Lincoln University and the Square Roots Collective—a Kennett Square community organization.

“Our goal was not only to remind community members of the power of Harriet Tubman’s life and the significance of the Underground Railroad in our community but also to introduce the work of Voices Underground,” said Gregory Thompson, VU’s executive director. 

“Voices Underground’s mission is to promote the African American cultural heritage of the Chester County area by creating a world-class public monument and ongoing creative programming in celebration of the Underground Railroad,” he added.

This promotional image of the film shows Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in a scene from "Harriet.” (Courtesy of Focus Features)

This promotional image released of the film shows Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still in a scene from "Harriet.” (Courtesy of Focus Features)

LU President Brenda A. Allen said the presentation of the film in partnership with Square Roots Collective was a sterling example of one of the University’s strategic plan goals: leveraging partnerships to contribute to the cultural life of the community.

Justin McKenzie, chief information officer at Lincoln University, and Mike Bontrager, CEO of the Square Roots Collective.

Allen also noted that the town of Lincoln University, located just north of the Mason-Dixon Line, was likely a key stop on the Underground Railroad, making this evolving project with Voices Underground very exciting and relevant for LU today.

“It was terrific to have our students and community members sitting side-by-side experiencing this important, moving film,” she said. “In these troubling times, the undaunted courage that Harriet Tubman displayed again and again is a model for all of us to emulate.”

About The Square Roots Collective: The Square Roots Collective is a collection of enterprises—for-profit businesses, nonprofit ventures, formal and informal partnerships, and associations with like-minded organizations—united by their commitment to a thriving Kennett Square.

Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), educates and empowers students to lead their communities and change the world. Lincoln offers a rigorous liberal arts education to a diverse student body of approximately 2,200 men and women in more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs.