Wednesday, February 06, 2013

"Newseum" presents "March to Justice" with panel discussion


Tonight, Wednesday February 6, 2013, I attending a screening of the 45-minute film “March to Justice”, by Kerry Kennedy and the Investigation Discovery Channel, at the Newseum  in Washington DC., in the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater.   Screening was limited to members of the Newseum.  It will be aired on Investigation Discovery later in February. 2013.  It was produced in part by NBC News.  That means that a theatrical release, if it happens, would probably go through Focus Features or possibly Relativity Media and “I Am Rogue”.   This film definitely should get shown in a place like Landmark or the West End Cinema later. 

The website for the film is here.  The first two or three minutes seemed like a trailer than the beginning of the real film.  
   
The film traces the history of the Civil Rights movement from 1961 to 1965, until President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.  It gives details (including a lot of black and white footage) of a school integration attempt in Louisiana in May 1961, the bombing of a Birmingham AL Baptist church in September 1963, and most of all the Selma march in 1965, which had to be attempted three times. The film has a lot of original footage at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 
  
Particularly interesting was the difficulty that the Kennedy and then Johnson administrations had at first in getting law enforcement to honor Supreme Court rulings and federal laws.  In Selma and at other demonstrations, police showed up and beat demonstrators or sometimes used water hoses.  One woman says that the water hoses could cause injury and remove hair.
  
The film showed the huge crowd at the 1963 March on Washington, but only briefly.  I recall that Washington Senators baseball games were postponed for two days (and then the Senators lost a double header the next day!)
   
The film was followed by a panel discussion by Kerry Kennedy, John Seigenthaler, and Carolyn McKinstry.  They were introduced by Jim Duff and Henry Schlieff (from Investigatiom Discovery).
    
I got to ask a question.  I identified myself as a gay white male who had always been impressed with the importance of conforming and paying attention to the needs of others in my own immediate family and community, and “keeping a low profile” else risking other family members, even if I didn’t have children. Kerry Kennedy related to the question, and said that MLK had faced threats on his own family all the time.  Black churches in Birmingham had faced repeated threats in the early 60s. 
  
Although the film doesn’t cover it, three young white men were murdered in Mississippi un 1964 for helping blacks register to vote.

"Public Domain Footing" offers this video on Selma:

  
Other persons from the audience asked about full representation for Washington DC, and another asked whether full racial (and religious and gender-related) equality had been achieved despite our having an African American president.  One daughter of one of the Selma marchers also spoke from the audience (she stood right behind me). 
  
Wikipedia attribution link for 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. I visited the city in 1985.  I’ve also been in the state in 1989 and 1994 (in Huntsville and in the "mountain" areas).  

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