Selma films to premiere Thursday

Published 10:51 pm Monday, May 25, 2009

Students from Carolina Friends School in Durham, N.C. will show Selma residents how they see the history of this Alabama city through a couple of documentary films.

The films, “Selma Stories” and “Talking About Race,” will premiere at Everyman Books Thursday. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

These students of Susan Kincaid are part of a fall civil rights class. The instructor and students spent three nights and two days in Selma last October.

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“Their goal was to engage in honest discussions about race with residents from a city in the Deep South,” Kincaid said, “that witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the civil rights movement: Bloody Sunday, followed by the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965.”

Kincaid had settled on Selma as the site for her students’ trip last October after visiting several well-known sites from the civil rights era the prior summer with Joanne Bland, co-founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute.

“Of all the places I went on the tour last summer, this is the place that stood out for me,” Kincaid said.

So she brought 14 students with her in October. At one point, the students divided up into two groups. Each group had a video camera. The students asked people they met on the street questions about race relations in Selma.

Students interviewed more than a dozen residents about their experiences with race during the last 50 years.

“Only one said he was not comfortable talking about race,” Kincaid said.

At another point during the fall tour, students spoke with four people, including Bland and BJ Smothers, about what it was like growing up and living as young adults during the years of segregation, often known down South as Jim Crow.

When the high school students returned to North Carolina, they had taken many hours of video interviews. Kincaid and upper school student Travis Rexrode sifted through hours of footage to develop the two short documentaries. “Selma Stories” is a short, eight-minute film that tells the stories of three Selma residents and the discrimination they faced during the era of Jim Crow because of their skin color.

The other documentary, “Talking About Race,” is based on interviews with people who live in Selma. It lasts about 40 minutes. Some of the people in Selma who appear in the films are David Clarbrey, Sgt. Johnny King, Tersa and Cristal Doll, Monique Waugh, Howard Walker, Essie Square, Jabrina Howard and Michael Dillard.

This week 10 students from the school are touring the area. They have already walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They will go to various areas in Montgomery to see and hear the stories there before returning to Durham via Birmingham and Atlanta.

Nancy Ziccardi, owner of Everyman’s Books, said she is happy the bookstore could provide a forum for the students to show their documentaries.

“They interviewed everyone. It was blacks and whites. It was not Afrocentric,” Ziccardi said. “These are children — young adults — making a film about Selma.”

The event will begin with a potluck supper at 6:30 p.m. with the film showing at 7:30 p.m. There will be dessert and conversation afterwards .