Professor brings “Ain’t I a Person” documentary to campus

Political activist and retired professor Keith Kilty will be presenting his documentary titled “Ain’t I a Person” at 7 p.m. on April 10 in Harrick Auditorium in the Stafford Academic Center. 

Kilty is professor emeritus in the College of Social Work at Ohio State University who has dedicated his life to researching poverty and inequality in the United States, particularly for women and minorities of color.

Castleton State College sociology professor David Ellenbrook is a former student of Kilty and is responsible for getting him to campus.

“Dr. Kilty was inspiring and acted as a role model over the years for hundreds of students including myself.  He always seemed to be involved in one cause or another for social justice.  So it came as no surprise when I learned upon his retirement he had spent two years directing a documentary on the homeless in Ohio,” Ellenbrook said in an e-mail. “We at Castleton are fortunate to have him visit with us and present his film.”

Kiltyis the author of more than 50 scholarly papers and  co-founded, with Elizabeth A. Segal, the Journal of Poverty:  Innovations on Social, Political & Economic Inequalities, a quarterly journal designed to provide a focused outlet for discourse on poverty and inequality.

After retiring in June 2007, Kilty began working on his documentary about poverty and inequality, which was filmed largely in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.  The goal of the documentary is to put a human face back on poverty after 30 years of conservative efforts to demonize the poor in America, Ellenbrook said.  The feature-length documentary was completed in March 2011.

Kilty, reached by phone Friday, said he doesn’t believe there is enough “awareness or concern about poverty in the U.S.” He said through his documentary he hopes to help change that. He said he had had this project in mind for years, but finally had the time to pursue it after his retirement.

And while he said he still loves the written word in books and journals, he said he believes the documentary format will better reach students. 

“I think students learn better with visual material than with print,” he said.

All students are encouraged to attend and participate in a question, comment and answer period following the film.  Social science and helping profession students are particularly encouraged to attend.

His visit, which will mark his first time to Vermont, is sponsored by the department of sociology, social work, and criminal justice and through the Dean’s Lecture Fund.

Ellenbrook said Kilty will be visiting with his students in classes during his visit.

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