I had the pleasure of experiencing a homegrown documentary directed by D.C. Native, Keith Plummer last night. The documentary entitled Before the Memories Fade: Voices From the Civil Rights Movement, was probably one of the most enlightening and creative pieces I have seen concerning Civil Rights. The Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon Ave was the home of the Atlanta premiere of this piece, garnering a very curious and eclectic crowd.

The basic premise of the documentary was to inform viewers of personal and individual stories of the movement to help further understand the broad struggle for Civil Rights. Icons from the movement that participated in the film included Rep. John Lewis,   Dorothy Height (late president of National Council for Negro Women), as well as many other notables. What truly fascinated me were the stories of those individuals that played pivotal roles in the movement, but weren’t really mentioned in textbooks. And, quite frankly, I’m glad they weren’t. Hearing their experiences gave me so much more than what a moldy old textbook could. It made the Civil Rights Movement more personal–more individual. You could feel the struggle in their voices as they tried to hold back tears, reliving the memories of that dangerous time.

The documentary covered the good days, the bad days and the triumphs as droves of people marched and fought for equality among men and women. Personally, I sat in the theater and had to hold back tears. I had of course studied and known about the Civil Rights Movement, but I had never known it like this. So raw. So open. Being able to understand the pain that these individuals went through so that I could walk freely through the streets today. It was an amazing experience.

There’s so much more to Black History than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks. It is a rich history that flows with freedom and justice. And we owe that freedom to those that fought for it. This documentary does that. This piece is majestically done and is a requirement for my generation as well as others to see in order to understand what truly occurred.

I just think someone telling their own story as they experienced the movement is a lot more accurate than a history lesson. The story is a lesson itself.

If you’d like more information about this documentary, feel free to visit: http://www.beforethememoriesfade.com/

There will be another screening of this documentary at the Historic Morton Theatre in Athens, GA on February 28th.Tickets are on sale now at the link above. More screenings around the Metro area will be happening soon, so be sure to watch out for those.

–Wendell Scott


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