Anniston Museum premieres new Civil Rights documentary | Arts & Culture
Anniston, AL- Anniston Museum is pleased to announce the first public showing of a moving and thought provoking new documentary film produced by the Museum, in association with Vital Productions.
Mine Eyes Have Seen, Anniston’s Place in Civil Rights History will premiere at Anniston Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Anniston High School at 6 p.m. Thursday evening, December 6. Admission is free and the showing is open to all ages.
Mine Eyes Have Seen tells the true life story of the city of Anniston’s role in the Civil Rights movement through videotaped interviews with the men and women who lived the history. Though not as well known as Selma or Montgomery, Anniston nonetheless has a story to tell, and with funding from the City of Anniston, the Museum and Vital Productions have created a documentary movie that chronicles the struggles and successes of our community as seen through the eyes of these men and women, our local heroes of the civil rights era.
In some ways, Anniston experienced the same struggles as most other cities. A case in point: the infamous bus burning incident of 1961. But in some ways Anniston was different. The city was able to avoid further violence by working together to bridge the gap between the races through discussion, dialogue and the hands-on efforts of many, black and white, who sought to overcome for all.
Mine Eyes Have Seen is the culmination of many months of research and planning by Museum staff, however the seeds of this ambitious undertaking were originally planted by the Anniston City Council, who asked for the Museum’s assistance in gathering resources meant to form the nucleus of a proposed future civil rights museum. Following many lengthy discussions and brainstorming sessions, it was agreed that the best foundation to build upon would be the firsthand recollections of those who were actually present and involved in Anniston’s civil rights movement.
Capturing these oral histories was of particular importance to the Museum, as, over the years, many voices have fallen silent. Through the lengthy process, which included months of research and planning, seventeen live interviews were recorded. While the many hours of raw footage necessitated editing for the final production, the complete footage from each participant has been preserved in its entirety, as a part of the Museum’s Collections, so that the words of those who remain will be forever preserved.
This very ambitious project began with a list of names of the local men and women who might have something to offer. They were contacted and asked to participate, to which most immediately agreed. Many participants contributed personal mementos to the project, including newspaper clippings, photos, and high school yearbooks. These items were scanned and photographed, along with articles from the Anniston-Calhoun Public Library and pieces from the Anniston Star Archives. While many of these items will also find a home in the future civil rights museum, they can be seen in flashbacks and fades throughout the film as their owners speak and remember.
A powerful film, Mine Eyes Have Seen is sure to affect all who see it, judging by the recent private screening held for the participants at Anniston Museum on October 25. An “invitation only” audience packed the Museum Auditorium for this first-ever viewing of the film. When the lights dimmed, the audience fell silent and the film began to roll. The people on the screen were familiar faces: family members, friends, neighbors, and business associates. However, in the darkness of the Museum Auditorium, they soon became much more.
Through their words and memories, the seventeen local residents interviewed for the film transported those first viewers back to a not-so-distant time that now seems almost a world away. One after another they told their own stories of life in Anniston during segregation and the struggle for equality, and of their lives afterwards, reflecting on the many changes in society and the different world they helped to create for their children and grandchildren. The invited viewers sat in rapt silence, captivated by what played out before them. Then, slightly more than an hour later, the film was finished, and the audience, awed by what they had witnessed, applauded their fellow Annistonians with a sense of pride and amazement. Again and again, attendees complimented Museum staff members on the quality of the project, the need for the film to reach a wider audience, the gratitude that these stories would be preserved for all posterity.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response following the October 25 private screening, Anniston Museum has arranged for the upcoming public showing of Mine Eyes Have Seen, Anniston’s Place in Civil Rights History, at Anniston Performing Arts Center, Thursday, December 6 at 6 pm. The event is free and open to the public, and both City Officials and Museum Staff encourage citizens of all ages to learn Anniston’s unique story by sharing this hour with us as our guests.
For more information on this public showing of Mine Eyes Have Seen, Anniston’s Place in Civil Rights History, or to purchase a copy of the DVD, please call 256-237-6766 or email email@example.com.