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Opportunity Details

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Civic & Community,



Age Minimum (with Adult) - 18, Minimum Age - 18+, Skill Category - N/A Verified Volunteers Level:

Social Cinema: Welcome to Shelbyville

Boston Cares

Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy, Boston Cares’ May Social Cinema program features the documentary Welcome to Shelbyville. Welcome to Shelbyville takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life.

Welcome to Shelbyville is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. Set on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, the film captures the interaction between Shelbyville residents as they navigate new waters against the backdrop of a tumultuous year. The economy is in crisis, factories are closing, and jobs are hard to find. The local Tyson chicken plant is hiring hundreds of new Somali refugees, and when a local reporter initiates a series of articles about the newcomers, a flurry of controversy and debate erupts within the town.

Just as the Latino population grapples with their own immigrant identity, African American residents look back at their segregated past and balance perceived threats to their livelihood and security against the values that they learned through their own long struggle for civil rights. As the newcomers — mostly of Muslim faith — attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change.


Through the vibrant and colorful characters of Shelbyville, the film explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion, and identity in this dynamic dialogue. The story is an intimate portrayal of a community’s struggle to understand what it means to be American.

After the screening, participants will have an opportunity to engage in an open dialogue facilitated by a panel of guest speakers.

Click here to view the trailer.

This event is part of PBS' Emmy winning series Independent Lens, a new monthly film series hosted in partnership with Boston Cares, ITVS Community Cinema, and City Year. For more information on these organizations visit and

T-Accessible, Orange Line (Back Bay), Green Line (Copley).

This screening is FREE and open to the public. You do not have to be a member of Boston Cares to attend.


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