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Newhouse professor’s film to be screened in New York City Feb. 7
Newhouse professor’s film to be screened in New York City Feb. 7January 25, 2007Scott McDowellsemcdowe@syr.edu
The documentary runs just under an hour, but that is more than enough time for it to leave its mark on those who see it. On Feb. 7 at 7 p.m., the Second Wednesdays at Lubin program, along with Syracuse University’s Office of Program Development, will present the New York City premiere of “Freedom’s Call” at SU’s Joseph I. Lubin House. A reception will precede the event at 6:30 p.m.
Showing in honor of Black History Month, “Freedom’s Call” provides a first person look through the eyes of two journalists, Dorothy Gilliam and Ernest Withers, who covered the civil rights movement in the Deep South during the most turbulent of times. It was directed by Richard Breyer, professor of television, radio and film in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
“I wanted my grandchildren to know that America was a very different place when I was a little girl growing up in Memphis and Louisville, Ky.,” says Gilliam, a reporter who broke the color line for African American women at The Washington Post and later became president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “I wanted them and others to remember the horrible laws that prevented African American children from going to school with white children, from living in the same neighborhoods and from having equal jobs.”
Filmed during the course of a 10-day road trip in 2005, “Freedom’s Call” is that vehicle. Breyer couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the production, which received glowing reviews after screenings in Syracuse as well as at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles through the Syracuse University in LA office. “We wanted to do a documentary that had as much integrity as possible,” says Breyer. “There aren’t enough events where people can share experiences. Our screenings provide this opportunity.”
Freedom’s Call will introduce people to Civil Rights legends such as Minniejean Brown Trickey, one of The Little Rock Nine. Gilliam recounts the moment she met Trickey for the first time. “She wants people to know that they were ordinary young people with loving, supportive parents who paid a high price to bring about change in America,” says Gilliam. That price included rioting that made national and international headlines.
For producer George Kilpatrick ’81 G’95, creating the documentary was very much a spiritual journey. “[The journalists] were so courageous and I was so lucky to be able to go to some of the same spots and travel the same roads. Roads that in the past could have meant death. It was a real experience.”
Another experience recollected by Kilpatrick was their fortuitous meeting with James Meredith, the first black man to attend the University of Mississippi. They had a meeting scheduled with his wife and wound up landing an interview with the Civil Rights icon himself. For Gilliam however, there was something troubling about the return trip to the campus. “I felt a sense of sadness when I asked a black student if he had ever heard of James Meredith and he told me `no’.”
The producers understand that this project may serve as an important educational tool for many. “Some of the events that we discuss have been forgotten,” says Kilpatrick. “We hope at the end of the film that people are curious to learn more about an important time in history.”
On Feb. 7, Gilliam, Breyer and Kilpatrick will all be on hand to engage in a dialogue with those in attendance. For more information on this event visit http://lubinhouse.syr.edu/happenings/index.cfm or call 212-826-1449. To view a trailer of the film and more, visit http://freedomscallthemovie.com.