Dare Not Walk Alone
SaveOurHistory | St. Augustine, FL USA | 10/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Millions of visitors come every year to the nation's oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida. They wander down the narrow streets and marvel at the balconies and horse carriages and coquina stone fort, but they leave entirely ignorant of the most important modern event in the Ancient City's history: the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
St. Augustine was a great battlefield of that movement, like Montgomery and Birmingham and Selma and Memphis--but it is the only one of those cities that does not yet have a museum dedicated to telling the civil rights story.
That is not because it lacks significance: it was the demonstrations in St. Augustine organized by Dr. Robert B. Hayling and Dr. Martin Luther King that led directly to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed racial segregation in motels and restaurants, and also job discrimination (not just against blacks, but also against women, so it has really changed the face of the American job force). It was one of the two great legislative accomplishments of the movement, and should be considered the Ancient City's greatest gift to modern America.
Until St. Augustine gets its act together and starts fully embracing its civil rights heritage, we are fortunate to have Jeremy Dean's excellent movie "Dare Not Walk Alone," which graphically and movingly tells what that story is all about. Anyone who lived through those times should view it as a refresher course, and the generations that have come along since will find it as history NOT presented in a dull, dry or boring way. It crackles with excitement.
Those who are inspired by the film to learn more may want to look up books like Dan Warren's "If It Takes All Summer"; Deric Gilliard's "Living in the Shadows of a Legend"; Taylor Branch's "Pillar of Fire"; and David Colburn's "Racial Change and Community Crisis."
A Different Kind of Civil Rights Film
Stephen Cobb | Upstate New York | 10/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think many kids today see civil rights marches as sedate affairs with much banner waiving and hymn singing; they don't get why the non-violence movement was so brave, so heroic. This movie shows the kickings and beatings that marchers endured without retaliation, creating scenes that decent Americans found intolerable, thus exerting enormous pressure on politicians, like LBJ, whose White House tapes are hear on the soundtrack.
As the great struggles in our nation's history recede further into the past they are packaged into familiar textbook images and well-worn phrases, becoming comfortably distant and increasingly irrelevant to the present. Watching this film I felt that the young director, Jeremy Dean, was determined to prevent that happening to the civil rights movement. Apparently, according to the interview that appears on this DVD, Dean found himself living in a battle ground of the sixties, hearing war stories from those who were on the front lines, people who were jailed and beaten because they stood up for equality. He set out to make a film that conveys all of the tension, the fear, and the outrage of that period.
The result is a powerful movie that reminds us what really went on back in the sixties, the white hatred and violence towards blacks, the heroism of those Americans--of all colors and faiths--who vowed to take to the streets in the name of justice for all and take the blows and taunts of white racists without fighting back, thus executing Dr. King's masterful strategy of non-violence that forced the enactment of laws guaranteeing civil rights.
But Dean does not stop there. Unlike filmmakers who have played it safe and stuck with the history of civil rights being won, Dean dares to explore what has since been lost. He confronts the challenges of the present by asking a very uncomfortable question: If the laws were changed back then, why aren't things more equal now? Dean takes us through parts of a community that stood up for equality in 1964 yet finds itself in deep trouble today. A world of poverty that has apparently been left behind is seen through the eyes and words and music of its inhabitants, people who live in a place that epitomizes what Senator Barack Obama called "the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time."
Overall, this is a great lesson in American history and links it directly to the present."
My favorite uncle was one of the rabbis at the pool
R.L. | Reston, Virginia | 01/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"St. Augustine was about to celebrate its 400th birthday in 1964 and because African Americans were treated so poorly there, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. thought it was the perfect place in which to agitate. Dr. King was arrested on June 11, 1964 at Monson's Motor Lodge. It was his twelfth arrest and his only arrest in the state of Florida. It was at that point that he asked rabbis and priests to come to his aid. He wanted them to agitate at Monson's in order to raise awareness about the horrendous treatment of blacks in the nation's oldest city.
Clyde Sills (my Uncle Mickey) was my mother's younger brother and he was a rabbi. My uncle had two very small children and a wife who didn't relate to or approve of his idealism. My uncle was very torn about whether or not to go to St. Augustine, and after giving it a lot of thought, he decided he couldn't turn his back on his African-American brothers and sisters. On June 18, 1964, I was in the den of my New York home with my then 35-year-old mother. On television we were watching my uncle Mickey getting arrested at Monson's. I was completely confused and did not understand why my favorite uncle was being arrested and why the motel manager was pouring muriatric acid into the pool. I looked at my mother to enlighten me but she was so worried about her baby brother that all she said was, "There's my brother. Oh my God!" My uncle had called her earlier in the day to warn her about what was going to happen that day. My mother did her best to explain to me what I saw on the news that evening. All I got out of it was that white Southerners were bad guys who didn't like Blacks, and that white southerners didn't allow blacks into their swimming pools because they were fearful that the blacks would "contaminate" their pool with their "blackness." When I saw off-duty police officer Henry Billitz jump into the pool to pull out the black bathers, I was really confused. What scared and confused me the most about the whole incident was that southern policeman were on the side of the white racists. Later that day, my uncle was put in the very prison that Dr. King had been in just a few days earlier and like Dr. King, my uncle was frightened to be there. Dr. King had been moved to a jail in Jacksonville for his safety a few days before my uncle was incarcerated there. Just 3 days after my uncle was arrested in June of 1964, two Jewish civil rights workers and one African-American civil rights worker were arrested and murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi totally overshadowing the Monson Motor Lodge incident. The incident is mentioned in a few books, but very little attention has been given to it over the years.
I visited Monson Motor Lodge in 1998, before it was torn down. The pool was just as I remembered it from the one time I had seen it on tv in June of 1964. The location of the motel was nothing like I envisioned it to be. I was shocked that the motel and the pool were so close to a bridge.
That event on June 18, 1964 got me very interested in 20th century African-American history because I just couldn't believe that Americans could treat other Americans so inhumanely in the 20th century. Because of that episode, I would go on to read hundreds of books on lynchings because I wanted to understand why people could be so cruel. My interest in 20th century African-American history took me all over the deep south and the midwest in the 1990s. My search for the truth led me to Money, Mississippi and Ruleville, Mississippi in 1991 where I met one of the two brothers who lynched Emmett Till (Roy Bryant). I would become friends with a man who survived an August 1930 lynching in Marion, Indiana (James Herbert Cameron). In 1992 Mr. Cameron told me to visit the jail where he was arrested in 1930 because it was going to be torn down or turned into an inn. I took his advice and I visited the jail. Marion like most other towns that have had a lyching, appeared to be a very depressing place. The jail was just as Mr. Cameron said it would be. He had visited the jail from which an enraged mob took him in 1930, just a short while before I visited the jail in December of 1992. He told me it hadn't changed at all in those 62 years. I later interviewed the sister of a man (George Grant) who was lynched in Darien, Georgia in September of 1930. I'll never forget the tears running down her 90-something year old face as she told me some of the details of the story that had taken place 68 years earlier. Some pain never goes away no matter how much time passes. I would never have done any of these things if my uncle hadn't been arrested at Monson's in 1964.
In my mid thirties I moved to Virginia and became great friends with several elderly white southerners whose racial attitudes were both old-fashioned and somewhat racist. Nonetheless, I came to love some of these individuals and I actually made one couple my childrens' godparents. My friendship with them helped me overcome my prejudice of white southerners that had started back on June 18, 1964 when James Brock made the bad decision of pouring muriatric acid into the pool.
I just ordered this item and I am greatly looking forward to watching it. I never believed that anybody would make a movie on this subject but I am glad that somebody has. I gave it five stars even though I haven't seen it yet, because I couldn't post a review without giving some rating. I gave it five stars just because I was so glad that somebody made a movie about this subject that impacted my life and my world view so greatly.