Disney film viewing, panel, and visit promote peaceful activism


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By Haley Costen
Staff Writer

On Monday, April 7, the College showed “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a film that chronicles the effort of Liberian women to end the civil war that tore the country apart until 2003.

The screening was in preparation for director Abigail Disney’s visit on Wednesday April 9.

Film professor Judy Richland,  student Breanna McDaniel, and producer Abigail Disney, at the April 9 visit.  (Photo by Shauna Deleon)

Film professor Judy Richland, student Breanna McDaniel, and producer Abigail Disney, at the April 9 visit. (Photo by Shauna Deleon)

Disney is Simmons’ Friars Leader-in-Residence. Her film depicts the struggle of united Muslim and Christian women who began donning white and protesting together for peace amongst the bloody fighting between warlords and the corrupt Charles Taylor Regime.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” showed thousands of women gathering peacefully to convince the warlords and Taylor to meet for peace talks in Ghana, and their attempts to protest and force action at the peace talks while explosions and violence reigned in Liberia.

The film continued to show the effort and the influence of the women on the United Nations even after the peace talks concluded and war in Liberia came to an end.

A discussion about the film and the state of Liberia led by several panelists with questions from Senior Lecturer Judith Richland and members of the audience followed the showing.

The panel included Benjamin Cole, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations; Makeda Kamara, associate professor of practice of nursing and international consultant on reproductive justice, birth, and women’s wellness; Dan Honig, Harvard public policy PhD candidate and former aid to successive Ministers of Finance in Liberia; and Benjamin J. Spatz, Tufts University international relations PhD andidate and current Arms Expert on the United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia.

The panelists discussed female oppression as part of a social system, the role of the United States in the Liberian civil war, and the importance of not being a bystander.