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‘Traveling While Black’ virtual reality experience books stay at McLean Community Center

A unique documentary is coming to McLean with a message about the danger and injustice that Black people face in America — in the past and present.

The McLean Community Center is making the virtual reality experience “Traveling While Black” available to visitors for free in its lobby from Dec. 15 through Feb. 12.

“As we near Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month events, we hope our patrons will take the time to come learn with us and become change agents in creating the world that Dr. King envisioned in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” MCC executive director Daniel Singh said in a news release.

Providing 360 degrees of footage, the movie, which debuted in 2019 at the Sundance Film Festival, draws on a half-century of civil rights struggles for justice, framed through a conversation at D.C. mainstay Ben’s Chili Bowl.

“‘Traveling while Black’ is a term people use to illustrate that in America when you are Black and you are going from point A to point B, you are always at risk,” director Roger Ross Williams said in a statement. In 2010, he became the first Black director to win an Oscar, awarded for his short subject documentary, “Music by Prudence.”

“Traveling While Black” features Samaria Rice, who lost her 12-year-old son, Tamir, when police killed him in Cleveland in 2014 while he was playing in a park with a toy gun. The Justice Department said on Dec. 29, 2020 that there was insufficient evidence to file charges against officers.

The movie also includes civil rights leader Courtland Cox. Among his efforts to bring racial equality, he worked to create a political party in Lowndes County, Alabama, and helped people there register to vote in the 1960s. The county eventually elected its first Black sheriff in 1970.

People can sign up online for hour-long appointments at the McLean Community Center from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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