Friday, December 20, 2013

"The March", narrated by Denzel Washington, documents the August 1963 event

While visiting the National Archives store yesterday, I picked up the PBS DVD for the one hour film “The March: The Story of the Greatest March in American History”, from Smoking Dog Films, directed by John Akamfrah, narrated by Denzel Washington. The event is, of course, the March on Washington in August 28, 1963.
The film seems to be different from the “March to Justice” shown at the Newseum on Feb. 6, but much of the content overlaps, especially toward the end.
The film begins with an emphasis on the situation in Birmingham, AL in the early 1960s.  The film says that the city developed the nickname “Bombingham”, particularly after the death of four girls in the church explosion in September, 1963 (after the march). But there were many incidents of violence targeted a blacks, including a castration mention in the film.  Governor George Wallis, of course, fed the fires.
The film traces how the idea of a larger march (following one in 1957) took hold.  The Kennedy administration was coming to be seen as not doing enough about civil rights, and the Kennedy people feared major disruptions in the City.  So the march was organized so that people would be in Washington for less than twelve hours, arriving (by bus, train, plane) in the morning and leaving in the evening.  Kennedy also had to deal with warnings from the FBI that major march organizers had “Communist” connections.
The film also mentions organizer Bayard Rustin, who was sometimes called “gay, Red, and black”. Perhaps the red part was overstated.
The film also quotes Dr. Martin Luther King as saying some people would have to give their lives to end segregation.
The PBS link for the film is here. There is a "free" copy on YouTube which may not be :"legal".  Legal purchases will help public television/ 
The film features Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Clarence B. Jones, Roger Mudd, and Oprah Winfrey.  Mudd says that he threw up at the march!
Executive producers include Robert Redford, Krysanne Katstoolis, and Laura Michalchyshyn.

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