Please join us on the evening of Saturday, June 15 for a screening of The Ordinance Project, followed by a Q&A with director Austin R. Williams, in conjunction with our exhibit Then, Here/Now: Creating Community in the Center.
In 1990, the city council of Kansas City, Missouri voted on a highly contested piece of civil rights legislation — a measure which would have officially outlawed discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations. Over a period of three weeks, council members heard more than twelve hours of testimony from hundreds of citizens. Supporters and opponents orchestrated massive campaigns, flooding City Hall with a record-setting amount of phone calls, letters, and demonstrations. Utilizing over fifty hours of oral history interviews with the Kansas City activists, community organizers, and politicians directly involved in fighting for the passage of nondiscrimination legislation for LGBTQ communities and people with HIV/AIDS, The Ordinance Project contextualizes the controversy surrounding this human rights ordinance within the broader resurgence of activism fueled by the AIDS epidemic.
Austin R. Williams is a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City whose current work focuses on Kansas City’s response to the AIDS epidemic and its impact upon LGBTQ civil rights. Specializing in public history, oral history, and documentary filmmaking, his debut film The Ordinance Project won the “Courage Award” for best feature-length documentary at the 2018 Kansas City LGBT Film Festival. Williams is in his fourth year as a graduate instructor at UMKC where he teaches courses in American History, LGBTQ History, and Public Urban Education. He is currently contracted with the University Press of Kansas.