Sunday, May 15, 2011

At Last! The St. Augustine Foot Soldiers Monument

This month St. Johns County in Florida took another step towards reconciling the racial divisions of its past through the unveiling of the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers monument.

Built to honor citizens of all ages who endured harassment, beatings, jail time and worse, in their efforts to bring civil rights to that city during the 1960s, the monument was the result of many years of hard work by a nonprofit group called the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers.

As noted by Ken Bryan, chairman of the St. Johns County Commission, in the St. Augustine Record, the fundraising efforts of the St. Augustine Foot Soldiers included screenings of Jeremy Dean's "Dare Not Walk Alone," the award-winning documentary about local events that precipitated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

These screenings served a double purpose, raising funds while also raising awareness of just how great were the sacrifices of the Foot Soldiers. And throughout the movie you see the brilliance of Rev. Martin Luther King's strategy of non-violence, often orchestrated by Andrew Young, executed by "ordinary" men, women, and sometimes children, who became, through their actions, "extraordinary."

As a nation, we owe these people a debt of gratitude for daring to put their lives on the line for what was right and cement for all Americans the equalities first envisioned in the country's constitution.

[Many thanks to NocturnalEscape.com for publicizing the unveiling and Brian Owens for the photo.]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Film That Sparked Florida Civil Rights Action Screens Feb 28 in Gainesville

A lot of filmmakers set out to change the world, or at least cause something good to happen. Well Jeremy Dean achieved something like that when he made Dare Not Walk Alone, the gritty, award-winning documentary being screened next Monday, February 28, at the Gainesville Civic Media Center.

On the 9th of December, 2010, the state of Florida officially expressed regret to civil rights marchers who were beaten and jailed for protesting segregated beaches and lunch counters in St. Augustine in the 1960s, an event "set in motion by state Senator Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat who unsuccessfully sought to pass a bill in the 2010 legislative session to clear the marchers' records." And here's what Sen. Hill wrote about Dare Not Walk Alone shortly after seeing the film for the first time:
"The documentary was so moving that, as chairman of the Black Caucus of the State of Florida, I have filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session in the House and the Senate to have all records cleared for anyone who was arrested because of segregated laws. That is how compelling the film was to me."
There is no other civil rights documentary like Dare Note Walk Alone. We hope you can make it to this screening, a fitting way to end Black History Month. More screening info.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dare Not Walk Alone Documentary Has Made a Difference: But the pace of change is too slow

Things can change for the better and movies can help make positive change happen, we just wish the world moved faster. On Thursday the 9th of last month, the state of Florida officially expressed regret to civil rights marchers who were beaten and jailed for protesting segregated beaches and lunch counters in St. Augustine in the 1960s, as detailed in this report in the Tampa Bay Tribune and documented in Dare Not Walk Alone.

As the article notes, the highly emotional events of last December 9th "were set in motion by state Sen. Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat who unsuccessfully sought to pass a bill in the 2010 legislative session to clear the marchers' records." What the article does not mention is that Sen. Tony Hill himself was set in motion by Dare Not Walk Alone. Here's what he wrote about the film back in 2006:

"The documentary was so moving that, as chairman of the Black Caucus of the State of Florida, I have filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session in the House and the Senate to have all records cleared for anyone who was arrested because of segregated laws. That is how compelling the film was to me."
We applauded Sen. Hill for his actions then, and we applaud the Florida legislature and departing Governor Crist for this recent step in the right direction. However, I am sure that Sen. Hill is just as frustrated as we are that it has taken more than 45 years for this expression of regret to emerge. And it should not have taken 3 years for Sen. Hill's bill to result in action, and even then an action which falls short of a blanket pardon and clearing of criminal records that have encumbered these heroic marchers for decades (apparently it will be up to individual law enforcement agencies to clear the records, if they decide to do so).

But this was at least a step in the right direction, and it makes us feel better about all the time and money and effort we put into making the film. I guess it was unrealistic to expect one film to change the world overnight, but perhaps incrementally, over time, it will chip away at the lingering issues of racial injustice that still must be addressed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dare Not Walk Alone Available as Internet Video on Demand

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaching we wanted to let you know there are several ways to watch Dare Not Walk Alone, a documentary which portrays the genius of the philosophy of non-violence that Dr. King preached.

This movie is not your typical salute to Dr. King. This is a gritty portrait of the beatings and abuse that his supporters endured, without fighting back, in order to force the passage of the first civil rights act.

Furthermore, this documentary places in context a series of events in Florida that were wiped from the historical record for many years until director Jeremy Dean researched the newsreel archives and oral history of 1964 in St. Johns County, uncovering injustices that linger to this day.

In addition to purchasing the DVD from Amazon.com or Walmart.com, you can also, if you have a broadband Internet connect, rent the movie over the web from Amazon.com.

A further option is to buy a digital version from Amazon.