The Civil Rights Movement through film

Civil Rights Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin giving a rare speech

As you may know, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was earlier this month and Black history month is right around the corner in February. This means that only during Winter term does our local (not so soft spoken) professor Dr. Dean Braa offers a civil rights film course, designed to get so in depth it’ll blow your mind and make you think.  This class is available  for credit and to all and any who wish to get a better understanding of the civil rights movement. The class is every Wednesday from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm in the ITC building room 211.

Civil Rights MLK LBJ
Martin Luther King meets with President Lindon B. Johnson

This course digs deep into the lives of major figures in the civil rights movement, as well as identify and explain key events in the movement. The first film that was shown was Citizen King. This documentary explains in great detail the final years and big moments in MLK’s life. Friends, Family and other people close to him give their explanation of what was happening at various points in MLK’s life. They explain how fatigued he was at times, how confused and unsure he could be, the doubts he had about the direction of his movement and how he felt “the weight of the world” on his shoulders. Some of his secrets were revealed and viewers watch as he attempts to gain back the respect of the people around him.These perceptions about him make people think of how very human he was. He went through so much in such a short time and had his life cut short.

Civil Rights Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks, The lady who refused to give up her seat

Other films like the Eyes On The Prize series are shown in this class. These films dig deep into the lives and the culture of the south in the times of segregation. The darker side of segregation is really emphasized in these films as pictures and film of some of the hate that happened comes to light. It teaches you more about what they do not teach you in high school. Stories of triumph and success are also very present in these films as you see the first black students go into an all white high school (Little Rock) and as you see one black man finally get to go to the college he always wanted to go to (Ole Miss). Stories like of a little old woman refusing to give up her seat and causing a widespread bus boycott which leads to the end of segregation in just a small little space. These films really put you in the shoes of anyone living in times of segregation and it really makes you think of the mentality that some people had back then and the ideals they strongly held.

Civil Rights MLK Malcolm X
Martin Luthor King Jr. and Malcolm X

In a couple weeks we will watch the movie X, which is based off of the man Malcolm X, a man who did not want to take the nonviolent, peaceful approach as did MLK but instead a more violent straightforward one. I am really looking forward to that and the discussion our professor starts because he has a reputation of getting loud, in your face and he provokes a lot of thought. There’s not more you can ask for in a class like this.

By Kevin Gutierrez

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