(Knoxville, TN) Knox County Public Library is pleased to present Say It Loud: Knoxville During the Civil Rights Era at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 1 at Lawson McGhee Library, 500 W. Church Ave. as part of its Sunday Screenings series. The event is free and open to the public.
The documentary features rare, historic footage of African American life during Knoxville's civil rights era. Also included in the program will be just-discovered local footage of early protests and marches in downtown Knoxville and Cumberland Avenue during the early 1960s.
Originally shown to a standing room only crowd in August 2014 at the East Tennessee History Center as part of the City of Knoxville's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Say It Loud: Knoxville During the Civil Rights Era was edited by Louisa Trott with film clips held in the Library's Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. The Friends of the Knox County Public Library provided funding for the project.
1963 was a pivotal year in Knoxville’s history, culminating with Look Magazine’s designation of Knoxville as an All-American City in April of that year. During that same year, African-Americans attempted to purchase, and were refused, tickets to attend a screening of the now-classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Tennessee Theatre.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would finally correct an unjust situation in Knoxville. Area schools, restaurants, churches, and Theatres were now open to everyone. By 1971, African Americans were running for political office in Knoxville. Indeed, social change had arrived, but it was a long, hard road to get there.
Documenting this social change on film were amateur home movie filmmakers and the television news film photographers from WBIR-TV. Over a 15 year span, WBIR-TV managed to capture the Clinton, Tennessee School bombings, the integration of city schools, sit-ins and protests in downtown Knoxville. Also depicted are Urban renewal efforts during the mid to late 1960s, and important people and events within the African American community.
Please join us as we present a different look at Knoxville’s African American history during the civil rights era, as seen through the lens of both the amateur filmmaker and WBIR cameramen of the period.
Mary Pom Claiborne
Knox County Public Library