Delta Academy & GEMS to host annual ‘Red Carpet Affair’

The Pine Bluff Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta’s Academy & GEMS Program will host its annual Red Carpet Affair from 3-5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Public Library, 200 E. Eighth Ave., in the Children’s Theater.

This Hollywood glam event will show the award-winning movie, “A Lesson Before Dying”, based on its novel by Ernest J. Gaines, published in 1993.

“A Lesson Before Dying” highlights the tension inherent in the lives of African-Americans during the 1940s. Gaines highlights how the pull away from the South divided blacks from their heritage and their roots, stranding them in a world where, it seemed, one had to look, talk, and act white in order to succeed. At the same time, however, remaining connected with one’s roots — with the rural South — meant having to live in a world fraught with Jim Crow laws and racial segregation (which remained in existence until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Racial violence and hatred pervaded all sectors of American society, but were felt most acutely in the rural South.

In “A Lesson Before Dying,” Grant is the only educated black man in the area and the only member of the black community who might be considered capable of becoming free of overt oppression. Nevertheless, his life and career choices are severely limited. Because of this, he yearns to leave the disheartening situation he is in. Grant feels that he is cornered by myriad forces. This movie features well-known actors such as Don Cheadle, Mekhi Phifer and Cicely Tyson. The title of this novel is imperative in understanding one of the major themes as there is a true lesson taught throughout the entire story.

Gaines’s novel investigates the difficulties facing blacks in the rural South during the 1940s, but the historical context of the novel spans almost a century. The book, “A Lesson Before Dying”, Gaines’ eighth novel, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and was Oprah’s choice for her October 1997 Book Club. On May 22, 1999, HBO premiered the movie, “A Lesson Before Dying”, which subsequently received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Made-For-Television Movie and Outstanding Writing for a Mini-Series or Movie. Ernest J. Gaines’ works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese.

A donation of $5 per ticket is requested. Tickets will be available at the door. A small concession stand will also be available.

In honor of World AIDS Day, a portion of the proceeds will go to a local HIV/AIDS foundation.

For more information, call 870-692-3403 or 870-413-1229.