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"Your film is life changing and life giving"
Now read more about Dr. Hayling..., ...the man who brought the civil rights struggle and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Saint Augustine in the 1960s.
Hailed as "a triumph of outrage and empathy," Dare Not Walk Alone tells "the greatest civil rights story never told." Set to a soundtrack that flows from gospel to hip hop, this film places the heroic struggle for civil rights in the context of current conditions on the streets where those struggles were fought, in a place that epitomizes what Senator Barack Obama has called "the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time."
A Message from the Film Makers
When a first time film maker chooses to tackle tough issues like race, rights, and responsibilities, the challenges come close to being insurmountable. The making of Dare Not Walk Alone was only possible through the great generosity of those who donated time, money, and professional services to the project. Jeremy and Richard and Chey and I will always be grateful to the film's faithful supporters for going the extra mile, sometimes literally, to make this film a success. ~~Stephen Cobb, Producer.
What were the central events in the civil rights movement? Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott? The 1963 march on Washington? The church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama? Yes, those events raised awareness of racial injustice and led congress to draft legislation outlawing the segregation that was rampant in many Southern states, but that legislation stalled. What got it passed? Some scholars now argue that the persistent non-violent protest in the City of Saint Augustine, Florida's leading pre-Disney tourist attraction is what clinched the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is what Jeremy Dean has documented in his feature-length film: Dare Not Walk Alone.
Think back to America in June of 1964. The Beatles were topping the charts with songs like "Love Me Do." The Rolling Stones were touring the States for the first time. And in Florida it was still legal to bar blacks from hotels and restaurants. Amazing as it sounds today, the neighboring state of Georgia had gone so far as to ban Ray Charles "for life" simply for refusing to play to a "Whites Only" audience. Under so-called Jim Crow laws it was even illegal for blacks to bathe on Florida beaches frequented by whites.
On June 18th, 1964, an extraordinary scene of civil disobedience was captured on camera in Saint Augustine. It made the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other papers, in America and around the world. The pictures showed the owner of the "Whites Only" Monson Motor Lodge pouring acid into a swimming pool where men and women, black and white, had committed an act of "instant 'integration" by entering the pool together. On June 19th the US Senate passed the long-stalled legislation.
The pool incident, fully document for the first time in Dare Not Walk Alone, capped a series of protests. A few days earlier Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been arrested for trying to enter the restaurant at the same hotel. Before that, Andrew Young, one of Dr. King's principal lieutenants, had been beaten during a protest march in Saint Augustine.
Audio recordings from President Lyndon Johnson's oval office, obtained by the Dare Not Walk Alone project, confirm that the swimming pool incident in Saint Augustine played a crucial role in the advancement of the civil rights movement. Just two weeks later LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. That law, which Ambassador Young, as he is known today, helped to draft, enforced the constitutional right to vote and outlawed segregation in public places. It also enabled the federal government to withhold federal funds from any state or local government agency that practiced discrimination.
And the story of the civil rights struggle is not just history. The struggle continues and Dare Not Walk Alone does not end in the past, it looks at the present and points to the future. Four decades after that season of fruitful protest a lot has changed in America and in Saint Augustine. But it is hard to deny that some forms of racial inequality still linger in parts of America, including this part of Florida, ironically the home of the first free black community (see Fort Mose web site).
That is why Dare Not Walk Alone not only documents an overlooked chapter of civil rights struggle, but also places that struggle in a contemporary context, where it can inspire people to continue the healing of divisions within our society and fulfil the American dream for all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or color.
Need More Reasons to Act?
In overall terms, the economic status of African Americans in 2006 stands at just 56 percent of that of white Americans. This is actually a decline since 2005. Perhaps the most striking discrepancy is this: The median net worth of the average white family in America is ten times that of the average African American family. Yes, you read that right, to put it simply and directly, white families are ten times richer than black families!
Updated Feb, 2008, by webbloke at cobbsblog.com © Stephen Cobb