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Some New Videos for Organizers

We share some videos that should be in community organizing collections. These films have a geographic link to the Southeastern U.S. Common themes of civil rights and racism run through them. In several of these links, you can see excerpts of the films. If you have suggestions for others, please share them.

Fundi us a film that should be in every basic collection of organizing and anti-racist audio-visuals. Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. First Run/Icarus Films has re-released this landmark civil rights documentary with a new digibeta videomaster that has been digitally restored with enhanced audio and video. Fundi reveals the instrumental role that Ella Baker, a friend and advisor to Martin Luther King, played in shaping the American civil rights movement. The dynamic activist was affectionately known as the Fundi, a Swahili word for a person who passes skills from one generation to another. Her example modeled the best of organizing. By looking at the 1960s from the perspective of Baker, the "godmother of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee," Fundi adds an essential understanding of the U.S. civil rights movement. The 48 minute version of the film (closed caption included) is available from Icarus Films, a company organizers should know.  For more information.

Anne Braden: Southern Patriot: Anne Lewis, the extraordinary documentary filmmaker has a received United States Artist fellowship, in her case a 2010 Booth Mattsson fellow. Her project is a new Appalshop film, Anne Braden: Southern Patriot, in partnership with Mimi Pickering. The feature documentary examines ideas, coming from a life spent in the movement for social and economic justice, about building a better world to live in. You can get background information on development of the film project and about Braden’s life by clicking here. Anne Braden was a firestarter at NOA’s 5th Gathering in Sonoma, California. She also inspired so many of us personally. A memorial page for Anne Braden was created on the NOA website upon her passing in 2006. For more about the the Anne Braden project, click here.

Two Towns of Jasper: Our friends at Working Films share the new Two Towns of Jasper Education and Outreach DVD with NOA members and allies. We know that much of your work as community and labor organizers involves dialogue and action for racial justice. We hope that this recently updated video resource will be a tool to advance your work. Originally released in 2003, Two Towns of Jasper is an award winning film that documents the town of Jasper, Texas over the course of the trials of three men charged with the brutal, racially motivated murder of James Byrd Junior. The filmmakers used a unique approach to create this documentary, with an all white film crew documenting the white residents of Jasper and an all black film crew interviewing and documenting the town’s black residents. The result was a groundbreaking film on racism that still resonates powerfully today.

The new Two Towns of Jasper Education and Outreach DVD includes a range of tools for organizers and educators that make it easy to set up and host screening events that spark meaningful dialogue and action. The special features on the DVD include: a community screening and discussion guide, an educators guide written by Facing History and Ourselves, customizable event fliers, and a DVD extra featuring case studies of successful uses of the film by community groups. It also includes a virtual screening toolkit that pulls out short clips from the film to encourage discussion on particular sub-issues raised in the story. These dynamic resources are designed to help jumpstart new conversations and actions for racial justice and reconciliation in communities nationwide. Whether it is a strategic screening with legislators or house meetings in rural communities, there are a myriad of ways this story can be used to open dialogues that might not otherwise have been possible.

Two Towns of Jasper Education and Outreach DVD was developed by Working Films, an international nonprofit that leverages the power of storytelling through documentary film to advance struggles for social, economic, and environmental justice, human and civil rights. Working Films is partnering with organizations to find uses for the film that will advance efforts related to racial justice and reconciliation. Anna Lee from Working Film would be happy to follow up with you about ways that you and/or your supporters can use Two Towns of Jasper. Feel free to contact her directly at 910-342-9000 alee at workingfilms.org

Welcome to Shelbyville is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In this one small Tennessee town at a time of tremendous change. The community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees. The economy is in crisis, factories are closing, and jobs are hard to find. The local Tyson chicken plant is hiring hundreds of new Somali refugees, and when a local reporter initiates a series of articles about the newcomers, a flurry of controversy and debate erupts within the town. Just as the Latino population grapples with their own immigrant identity, African American residents look back at their segregated past and balance perceived threats to their livelihood and security against the values that they learned through their own long struggle for civil rights. As the newcomers — mostly of Muslim faith — attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change. Bridges are being built in Shelbyville and community organizers play a key role even if not noted in the film. For more information.

Send us your ideas for other films or even write a set of short film mentions for themes. Send to info at noacentral.org

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