A powerful documentary film, a joint project of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics and the Community Idea Stations (public television in Virginia), had its theatrical premiere at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville on Saturday, November 7.
Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance tells the story of a shameful chapter in Virginia history, when the Byrd Machine, Governor Lindsay Almond, the General Assembly, and local officials colluded to close down the government schools rather than permit them to be desegregated. Instead of ending Virginia's tradition of segregating schools according to racial classifications -- one school here for Negroes, another school there for whites -- the state's elites decided to close the schools altogether and prohibited the election of school boards by the people.
The film tells the story in the words of the African-American students who lived through the process of desegregation in several Virginia localities: Arlington, Prince Edward, and Warren counties and the cities of Charlottesville and Norfolk.
The one-hour documentary, which is studded with archival film and video footage as well as photographs and recently completed interviews with participants, marks the 50th anniversary of Massive Resistance, which began -- and, in most places, ended -- in 1959. (The holdout was Prince Edward County, where schools remained closed until 1964, resulting in 10- and 11-year-old pupils sharing classrooms with 5- and 6-year-old first-graders.)
After a screening for a sold-out audience in the Culbreth Theatre on the grounds of the University of Virginia, Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics moderated a panel discussion that included the documentary's director, Mason Mills, as well as former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, who had become the nation's first elected African-American governor precisely 20 years before, on November 7, 1989.
Other panelists were students who suffered under Massive Resistance and whose interviews are included in Locked Out: Rita Moseley of Prince Edward, Donald Martin of Charlottesville, Michael Jones of Arlington, Delores Brown of Norfolk, and Faye Coleman Hoes of Warren County.
Before the film was projected, Larry Sabato introduced it.
After the film was screened, Sabato assembled the panelists and posed a few questions. Later, he opened up the floor to questions and comments from the audience.
Panel Part I:
Panel Part II:
Panel Part III:
Panel Part IV:
Panel Part V (Conclusion):
In that last segment, Sabato urges the audience to visit the Center for Politics web site and click on its Youth Leadership Initiative, to help the Center raise funds to distribute copies of Locked Out via DVD to schools around the country.
Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance will have its broadcast premiere on November 16 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE and WVPT, and it will become available nationwide on other PBS stations over the next few months.
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