Samford’s Howard College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of History will premiere a new film, produced by Howard College faculty and students, titled Speaking of Birmingham, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Wright Center.
"It's been a long road for me and others who have worked on this film,” history professor LeeAnn Reynolds said. "I am not a filmmaker. I am a historian. This project stretched me in ways I didn't expect and encouraged me to collaborate and rely on the technical expertise of others."
"I asked LeeAnn Reynolds to take charge of the project, and she has shepherded it brilliantly,” former Howard College of Arts and Sciences dean David Chapman said. “Her dedication and professional competence were critical to the success of the film.”
Chapman started this project more than a decade ago to promote in-depth discussions about race and to encourage collaboration among faculty from different colleges and universities in town.
Speaking of Birmingham is a modern companion to the 1961 CBS Reports documentary, titled Who Speaks for Birmingham?, which features interviews with city leaders, ministers and students at Birmingham-Southern College, Miles College and Samford University about their thoughts on race relations in Birmingham at the time.
"I was serving as the director of the Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education Deans’ Council when Speaking of Birmingham was conceived,” Chapman said. “We were trying to build more collaborative efforts with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Speaking for Birmingham seemed like an ideal project to further that connection."
Decades later, Speaking of Birmingham connects with participants from the original film to understand why they said what they said.
"People are always so shocked at some of the statements made," Reynolds said. "I hope this film provides more context for the racial divide in the city during those years.”
"We were able to obtain enough original footage to make Speaking of Birmingham a film that will stand on its own," Chapman said. "In a day where racial matters are still the center of public debate and political action, I think everyone should see a film that addresses the issues that exploded into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and beyond. It is an engaging and insightful film."
Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion about the documentary.
“I was tremendously impressed with the quality of the production, and I’m certain that those who come will find it sobering and compelling,” Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean Timothy Hall said. “I’m excited that the Samford community has this opportunity to view it and reflect on its lessons through the panel discussion.”
Students will receive convocation credit for attending the event and will also be able to use their student ID for admission. All other guests are required to reserve free tickets.