A screening of the documentary Talking Black in America, followed by a Q&A with its executive producer, North Carolina State professor Dr. Walt Wolfram, will take place at the Wang Center Theater on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 5 p.m.
The screening is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Department of Linguistics, the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, the Division of Undergraduate Education, the Department of Africana Studies, and the Stony Brook Online Learning Development (S-BOLD) initiative.
The film posits that African American English is the most controversial and misunderstood variety of speech in America, and showcases the history, development, and symbolic role of language in the lives of African Americans.
“The film follows the unique circumstances of the descendants of American slaves and their incredible impact on American life and language,” according to a synopsis on the film’s website. “Speech varieties from the African American community reflect the imprint of African language systems, the influences of regional British and Southern American dialects, and the creativity and resilience of people living through oppression, segregation and the fight for equality.”
The documentary was filmed in a variety of rural and urban locations throughout the United States and features Reverend Jeremiah Wright, DJ Nabs, Professor Griff, Quest M.C.O.D.Y., Dahlia the Poet, Nicky Sunshine and many others.
Dr. Wolfram is a William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University, where he also directs the North Carolina Language and Life Project. He has pioneered research on social and ethnic dialects since the 1960s and published more than 20 books and over 300 articles. Over the last two decades, he and his students have conducted more than 3,500 sociolinguistic interviews with residents of North Carolina and beyond, primarily under funding from the National Science Foundation.
He has received numerous awards, including the North Carolina Award (the highest award given to a citizen of North Carolina), Caldwell Humanities Laureate from the NC Humanities Council, the Holladay Medal at NC State, and the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America. He has also served as President of the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society, and the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics.