Campus Profile: Hampton University

Fifth in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards.

One step onto the grounds of Hampton University and a wave of history sweeps over you. It’s a story not unlike a tale of Aristotelian dimension — struggle, objective, journey and redemption. Hampton’s first class, in 1861, consisted of twenty students of newly freed slaves under Union Army supervision. “Contraband of War” they were called. Despite Virginia law forbidding education of blacks, these students gathered for class under a simple oak tree, “the Emancipation Oak,” which still stands on campus.

The objective, of course, was education — the great equalizer of society. And the journey of the last 150 years, the steady and focused pursuit of learning to those less fortunate among us, has produced perhaps the world’s most accomplished and successful historically black university.

Pride, social consciousness, political energy and leadership are themes that abound on this campus — themes that are reflected in the quality of student filmmaking here.

The University’s Film and Television Studies program trains “visual” storytellers who will make their marks on society in the 21st Century. Hampton advocates an “interdisciplinary nature” of film, and provides opportunities for students to draw upon subjects, for example, such as history, English literature, music, fine art, psychology and architecture, to provide a context for the creation of their visual stories.

We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Karen Ward, chair of fine and performing arts at Hampton. Her program offers a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Film and Television Studies and a Minor in Film Studies. The school offers courses in screenwriting, television writing, digital filmmaking, film history, film criticism, film festival development and the adaptation of novels to screen.

Congratulations to Hampton, where students draw on a history of yearning for education. We at Poe Film Festival can’t wait to see the intensity and powerful stories these students will submit to our College Film Awards this year. Go Pirates!

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