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VHS Film Series Features Shockoe Bottom Documentary

Virginia Historical Society’s “Created Equal” Film Series Renamed In Honor of Grady Wilson Powell

The Created Equal Film Series is now in its second year at the Virginia Historical Society. It focuses on themes related to civil rights, human rights, and social justice in American history. At a recent meeting, the board of trustees voted unanimously to rename the program in honor of Grady W. Powell. Powell, who has served on the board since 1996 and as honorary vice chair since 2011, has been instrumental in programming efforts to make history at the VHS more relevant and accessible.

Powell grew up in Brunswick County, Virginia, and presided over the historic Gillfield Baptist Church, founded in 1788, for thirty-six years. Among his many successful endeavors was his ordination of the first women deacons in a black Baptist church in the United States.

The first documentary, The March, was shown at the VHS on Thursday, April 23. The other films in this series include Meet Me in the Bottom (June 18), Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (September 10), and They Closed our Schools (October 22).

MeetmeinthebottomMeet Me in the Bottom (June 18) was named best documentary at the Virginia Independent Film Festival in 2011. The film tells the story of community efforts to reclaim the historic African American burial grounds in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom and has been updated to reflect recent events.

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (September 10) examines Rustin’s sixty-year career as an activist and organizer. Bayard Rustin organized the 1963 March on Washington, yet many in the civil rights movement were uneasy about his open homosexuality, forcing him to remain in the background.

They Closed Our Schools (October 22) documents the efforts of officials in Prince Edward County to close their public schools rather than integrate them. From 1959 to 1964, public education was denied to more than 2,000 African American children and a number of white children as well. The film is still in production, and we will be showing a twenty-minute segment.

All films will be shown at 6:30 p.m., with light refreshments available beforehand. Commentary and audience discussion will follow each film.

The March and the other programs in this series are hosted by the VHS in partnership with the Richmond Peace Education Center, and they are supported in part by the Gay Community Center of Richmond’s VHS Guy Kinman Research Award.



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