Tuesday, June 25, 2019
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Knox Hall 509, 606 West 122nd Street
Most Americans think of AIDS as long conquered, but the South is now the epicenter of the epidemic. "Wilhemina's War" tells the story of a Southern grandmother's struggle to destigmatize HIV. Over the course of five years, June Cross, a reporter who covered AIDS in the eighties, watches as Wilhemina Dixon, her daughter Toni Dicks, and her granddaughter Dayshal Dicks all struggle to live HIV-positive lives. The obstacles they face are institutional and personal. When a group of advocates from the the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council tries to help, it's an open question whether their efforts will be enough.
Documentarian June Cross uses the rhythm and sound of recorded images to highlight stories of the dispossessed and the importance of community. She recently completed “Wilhemina's War,” which premiered at DOC NYC, screened at the Pan African Film Festival, aired on PBS in February 2016, and was nominated for an Emmy.
During her career, she has worked for PBS’ Frontline, CBS News, and PBS’ MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Her reporting for NewsHour on the U.S. invasion of Grenada won the 1983 Emmy for "Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story." She is best known for “Secret Daughter,” an autobiographical film that examines how race and color impacted her family; it won an Emmy in 1997 and was honored that same year with a duPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Her memoir, “Secret Daughter,” was published by Viking in 2006. She was an executive producer for “This Far by Faith,” a six-hour series on the African-American religious experience, that was broadcast on PBS in 2003.
Cross received her B.A. from Harvard, and has been a fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University's School of Urban and Public Affairs, as well as at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies at Harvard. She received an honorary doctorate from Knox College in 2014. She became a professor at Columbia Journalism School in 2006, and founded the Documentary Program in 2009. She lives in Washington Heights with jazz drummer Mike Clark, and two cats.
This event is part of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research’s 2019 Summer Institute, “From the Margins to the Center: Narrating the Politics of Our Time,” co-sponsored by Columbia Journalism School and The American Assembly.