Documenting the black movement

Published: 24th July 2013 10:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2013 02:42 AM   |  A+A-

Remember the famed oration of Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a Dream”, which conjures up a grandiose vision of equality and fraternity. If Barack Obama, an Arfo-American, is president of the United States, the seed for this was sown way back in the sixties by the Civil Rights Movement. Hence, it becomes necessary for posterity to be aware of this history and, interestingly, an Indian is engaged in documenting the ‘Black movement’, which drew its inspiration from non-violence movement of Gandhi.

A noted documentary filmmaker with 10 titles to his credit, Swarnavel, hailing from Valuthoor village near Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district and settled in the US, is working on the short film project. It is an attempt to capture the three significant events in the course of the Civil Rights Movement.

Speaking to CE, Swarnavel, who was in the city recently, says ‘Unfinished Journey: A City in Transition’ documents three events of the summer in 2011 at St Augustine, Florida, which turned out to be a watershed in the history of the Black movement. St Augustine is the oldest city in the US (450 years), which also happens to be the age of the US. It was here in the early 60s, civil rights activists protested against segregation through non-violent demonstrations like the ‘sit-ins’ at lunch counters and ‘wade-ins’ at the beaches.

“This short film records St Augustine’s acknowledgment of its racial and dark past by the recognising the contributions of Andrew Young, the foot soldiers, and the beach protesters through the dedications and commemoration ceremonies”, he says.  Further, it provides an account of the struggles and efforts made by the associates of Dr King Jr such as Dr Robert Hayling, who is called as the ‘Father of Civil Rights Act’ and Dr Dorothy Cotton. They do appear in the film and make depositions.

What might set the documentary apart is the fact that it touches upon the process of reconciliation. “The efforts of the people of St Augustine towards reconciliation underscore the importance of the non-violent philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King. It helps them in facing contemporary issues arising out of cultural diversity and differences in terms of appearance, language, and nationality. Thus, revisiting the landmark events of the civil rights movement at St Augustine is an acknowledgment of history and reconciliation,” he explains.

The Civil Rights Movement spearheaded by Dr King in the year 1964 and hence 2014 would mark its golden jubilee. And, according to the film-maker this 60-minute documentary was planned as part of the jubilee celebrations.

Stay up to date on all the latest Chennai news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp