LEAWOOD, Kan. — Beginning Friday, Leawood-based AMC is hosting its first Black Picture Showcase to celebrate Juneteenth, the day in 1865 that marks the end of slavery in the United States.
The company is featuring classic and contemporary, Black-led films for just $5, but the motivation behind the showcase is deeper than what meets the eye.
"Following the murder of George Floyd, it's no secret that a lot of organizations had to do some deep reflecting and AMC was no exception to that," Cozetta Smith, AMC's manager of corporate communications said.
As more corporations turn their focus to diversity and equity, Smith said AMC formed several councils to give employees from marginalized groups a voice.
This includes councils on the African American, LatinX and LGBTQ+ experiences.
She added the councils allow "the people who are closest to the impact to also be closest to the solution."
AMC CEO Adam Aron held a series of town hall meetings with employees to learn about their experiences within the company and to hear their concerns.
As a result, the company's African American associates created the week-long event to "celebrate Black excellence in film and to amplify Black voices."
"The first message really was for our associate base that they are heard and that their experience and the things they want to see are validated and it's delivering on that promise," Smith said. "We're also having really good, foundational discussions about how we become a more equitable and more inclusive organization."
AMC's first Black Picture Showcase begins just days after President Joe Biden signed a bill into law, declaring Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
While some may question the motive and intention behind the showcase, Smith said it's been in the works for months and it's a step in the right direction.
"Performative allyship is real and it's something that we can all get into a pattern with if we're not very careful," Smith said. "But the Black Picture Showcase is coming from African American associates within this company. This is a group that works internally on behalf of what people are saying that they want to see."
The council voted on which movies to include in the showcase. They narrowed it down to six: Love & Basketball, Barbershop The Next Cut, Moonlight, The Water Man, Do The Right Thing and Fences.
People can purchase $5 tickets here.
The showcase will run from Friday, June 18 to Thursday, June 24.