Photo by Rachel Hughes

Local author and activist Donte Woods-Spikes spoke at Otterbein about racial injustice he had faced in Ohio. 

Woods-Spikes has lived in Columbus, Ohio his entire life and has said he experienced racial injustice within the city. Being a storyteller, he learned to approach life as “being intentional about creating a new future,” but that wasn’t always the case, he said.   

“I picked up film by accident,” Woods-Spikes said. “I had no intentions on doing it at all, but I started a teens group at a church not too far from Columbus State that made me say it's time to start telling my own story and telling the stories of people in these communities as well.” 

"As a Matter of Black" is not Woods-Spikes' first work. This second film of his brings light to the movements for racial justice through the documentation of activism and art in downtown Columbus. 

          

“Greater Columbus Arts Council had a grant where they gave people a chance to make a video about all the protests taking place in downtown,” Woods-Spikes said. “As I started to listen and take in all the video I had, I realized I had something. I wanted people to see that Columbus made an effort to recognize what was taking place and give different artists the opportunity to paint and share how they felt.” 

Otterbein's English department hosted the screening and discussion in order to highlight local storytellers, both on the literature and visual sides. 

“The English department supports local artists, including filmmakers,” said Margaret Koehler, professor and department chair of English at Otterbein. “We were drawn to his material because it focused on this region, and we have an ongoing interest in storytelling as an English department.”  

          

Artists in the film shared their reasons for participating. Ohio State University art education graduate Francesca Miller said she knew Woods-Spikes prior to the film. 

“We have this relationship that if Donte asks for anything, I got him,” Miller said. “I wanted to convey our dignity, our community, our joy, our everyday life, that our story goes beyond oppression. So, anything to advance making some kind of impact.”