Selmian wins broadcast award

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

When William “Bill” Gill, Selma native, was growing up next door to living Civil Rights legend, Amelia Boynton he had no idea that the rich history lessons he was privy to and the exciting people he met would play a role in his future.

Now, 30 years later, Gill is an award winning photojournalist creating outlets to share that rich history and other relevant and poignant stories with the world.

His documentary, “Beneath the Rubble:Birmingham Voices Then and Now,” was recently awarded several major national awards, including the coveted Edward R. Murrow award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

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“I feet good about all of my work,” said Gill. “I just so happen to get this award, but I feel great because I’m informing people.”

The half hour long documentary is about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in September of 1964 that resulted in the death of four little girls.

“I did this because no one else had done it,” said Gill. “I got people to talk that had never talked to anyone else about their experiences.”

One of those people was the woman who was the last person to see the little girls alive. She talked to Gill in great detail on film about what she witnessed and the events that ensued immediately after the bombing.

Gill said he got a charge from being able to capture these stories on tape so everyone can see it.

He also learned a lot about the story that he didn’t know before.

Gills connection to history is deeper that creating the documentary. His mother, Mattie Gill, was very active in the movement in Selma 40 years ago.

She was the first African-American women to work in the Federal building in Selma and there fore was privy to information that later helped Dr. King and others plan the Selma to Montgomery march.

Gill’s interest in journalism was sparked, in part, as a remedy what he saw as an injustice.

“When I was in college at Alabama A&M, Mike Williams was drafted to the NFL and when the major networks came to town to cover it, the local networks had no footage of him playing because they didn’t cover black sports,” said Gill.

Now, after two decades as a journalist and being awarded every major accolade, Gill says that he is happy because he has been able to open doors for people who probably wouldn’t get in otherwise.