Witten Award for Distinguished Documentary Film in Education
On April 15, the Museum of Education screened the first recipient for the USC Museum of Education’s Charles and Margaret Witten Award for Distinguished Documentary Film in Education.
This award-winning documentary film -- 40 Years Later: Now Can We Talk? -- tells the story of the first African Americans to integrate the white high school in Batesville, Mississippi in 1967–1969. The screening is a part of Museum's current exhibit 1963-2013: Desegregation—Integration commemoration the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of the University of South Carolina System.
After the screening, producer Lee Anne Bell and filmmaker Markie Hancock of New York City-based Hancock Productions discussed the conception and filming of the documentary. Lee Anne Bell is a professor of education and the Barbara Silver Horowitz Director of Education at Barnard College and Director of Barnard’s Storytelling Project: Teaching about Race and Racism through Storytelling and the Arts. Filmmaker Markie Hancock of New York City-based Hancock Productions has released numerous documentaries including Off-Track: Classroom Privilege for All, Echoes of Brown v. Board, and Exclusions & Awakenings: The Life of Maxine Greene.
This provocative and moving film elicited sensitive conversations amongst a standing-room only audience in Wardlaw Hall’s lecture hall. Its significance was also highlighted in the 8th Annual Indie Grits Festival which is a juried film competition of Southern filmmakers.
James L. Solomon Jr. joined the screening having had a pivotal connection to USC’s desegregation. Solomon was a faculty member at Morris College teaching mathematics who sought to further his education by enrolling in USC’s graduate school. Solomon, Robert G. Anderson and Henrie Monteith were the first black students to attend the university in 1963. USC unveiled its Desegregation Commemoration Garden on April 19, 2014 to serve as a tribute to their brave desegregation efforts that led to the rich campus diversity that exists today. The garden redesign is inspired by the ideals of diversity, equality and communication.