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United Way of Lancaster County


‘Traveling While Black’: Virtual reality show, discussions explore issues of race

A scene from “Traveling While Black,” set at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C. (Source: Felix & Paul Studios)

A virtual reality experience opening this week at Millersville University’s Ware Center in downtown Lancaster will use a famous example of Black resilience amid the reality of mid-20th century segregation as a springboard for looking at race relations and the treatment of marginalized groups then and now.

Traveling While Black” is a 20-minute documentary that highlights the “Green Book,” a travel guide that listed hotels and restaurants that would serve Black patrons. It was published from 1936 to 1966.

Created in 2019 by award-winning filmmakers Roger Ross Williams and Felix & Paul Studios, “Traveling While Black” is set at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a historic eatery in Washington, D.C. Viewers don Oculus Go virtual reality headsets to “enter” the restaurant, where they hear from patrons reflecting on their personal experiences with race relations.

“Viewers can expect a truly unique, powerful and profound experience,” said Barry Kornhauser, Millersville University Assistant Director of Campus & Community Engagement.

Millersville is offering the shows for free to ensure no one faces a financial barrier to seeing the documentary, Kornhauser said.

Shows will be offered four times a day from Sept. 27 through Oct. 25: Online registration is required. Up to 12 people can sign up for each showing, or 24 in student groups. For tickets, click here.

Community conversations

In conjunction with the showings, Millersville is hosting a series of eight free “Community Conversations” at the Ware Center exploring “historic and present barriers” faced by marginalized communities.

One will take place in conjunction with an opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 28, and one at a closing reception on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The other six will occur over the month of October.

The full schedule is as follows (all sessions are moderated by Lenwood Sloan unless otherwise noted):

  • Thursday, Sept. 28: Opening Reception, “Traveling While Black – The Green Book Story.” Moderated by Lenwood Sloan and Marquis Lupton, host and producer, WITF. Featuring:
    • Leroy Hopkins (CEO, African American Historical Society of South-Central PA)
    • Blanding Watson (President, Lancaster NAACP)
    • Josh Hunter (Director, Crispus Attucks Community Center)
    • The Rev. Edward Bailey (Bethel AME Church)
    • Derek Smith (Founder & President, African American Cultural Alliance of Lancaster)
    • Tom Ryan (President & CEO, Lancaster History)
    • Danielle Kepperling (Executive Director, Historic Preservation Trust)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3: “Traveling While Black & Queer” featuring:
    • Kearasten Jordan (Program Director, Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition)
    • Evita Colon (Poet Laureate/Creative Entrepreneur/Co-Owner, Concrete Rose Bookbar Co.)
    • Solise White (Co-Owner, Concrete Rose Bookbar Co.)
    • J Whitlow (Director of Campus Life, Millersville University)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10: “Traveling While Disabled,” featuring:
    • Jacklyn Nagle (Executive Director, Disability Empowerment Center)
    • Dr. Dennis Downey (Professor Emeritus, Millersville University)
    • Katarina Eller (legally blind Orientation & Mobility Specialist, VisionCorps)
    • Suzette Bartholomee (Deaf community representative)
  • Friday, Oct. 13: “Traveling While Undocumented,” featuring:
    • Kate Espinosa (Church World Service Community Engagement Specialist)
    • Laura Stump Kennedy (Church World Service Staff Attorney)
    • Church World Service community members
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17: “Traveling While Black Through the Education System,” featuring:
    • Carlos Wiley (Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Millersville University)
    • Gretchel Hathaway (Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion., Franklin & Marshall College)
    • Kesha Morant Williams Senior Advisor for Diversity, Equity & Belonging, Elizabethtown College)
    • Rhauni Gregory (Teacher, School District of Lancaster)
    • Dr. Nakeiha Primus (Associate Professor of Education, Millersville University)
  • Thursday, Oct. 19:Traveling While Black Up the Corporate Ladder,” featuring
    • Kevin Ressler (CEO, Alliance for Health Equity; former CEO, United Way of Lancaster County)
    • Willonda McCloud (President & CEO, Bright Side Opportunities Center)
    • Salena Coachman (Vice President of Talent, Sustainability, Diversity & Inclusion at Armstrong World Industries)
    • Jabron Taylor (Founder of Blazin’ J’s)
  • Monday, Oct. 23: “Traveling While Black Through the Arts,” featuring:
    • Rita Clark
    • Keisha Finnie
    • Amanda Kemp
    • Geraldine McCritty
    • Kellie Turner
    • Shelby & Jordan Wormley
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25: Closing Reception, “Traveling While Black – Today & Tomorrow,” moderated by Marquis Lupton. Featuring:
    • State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El
    • Blanding Watson (President, Lancaster NAACP)
    • The Rev. Edward Bailey (Bethel AME Church)
    • Derek Smith (Founder & President, African American Cultural Alliance of Lancaster)