Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eldridge and Thurmond to recount Athens desegregation in UGA Grady College program

Former Athens Mayor Doc Eldridge and former state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond will recount what it was like to attend a newly desegregated Athens high school as part of the series “Telling the Story: Education and Equality Through the Peabody Lens,” on Feb. 16, at CinĂ©, 234 Hancock Street.

Sponsored by the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the discussion with Eldridge and Thurmond will be preceded by a free screening from the Peabody archives of Busing: Some Voices from the South from 5-7 p.m.

Produced by Westinghouse Broadcasting Company in 1972, the documentary looks at what happened to some Southern communities after a busing program went into effect. Filmed in Athens, as well as cities in North Carolina and South Carolina, Busing: Some Voices from the South includes interviews with teachers, parents, school administrators, bus drivers and children about their experiences and concerns about busing.

The Athens segment includes comments by former UGA Dean of Men William Tate, Clarke County Board of Education attorney Eugene Epting, and Clarke County School Superintendent Charles McDaniel. A segment focusing on Oglethorpe Avenue School includes an interview with Principal Estelle Farmer, footage of Bridget Withers’ 4th grade class, and scenes from an Oglethorpe PTA meeting. The program also includes comments by Clarke High School classmates Jan Pulliam and Leo Scott.

After the film, Eldridge and Thurmond will discuss their personal experiences attending high school together in Athens during the contentious period of desegregation. The future players in Georgia politics became good friends in high school despite their racial differences and the tension that defined the era.

Hosted by the Grady College, “Telling the Story: Education and Equality Through the Peabody Lens,” is a series of three Peabody Collection films that focus on issues of education and equality. The first screening, of the HBO-movie Something the Lord Made, was held on Jan. 19. The second screening, Hoxie: The First Stand, was held on Feb. 2. The series is co-sponsored by the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and the Peabody Collection.

The screenings are being held in conjunction with UGA’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of desegregation, “Celebrating Courage.” In recognition of the historic event, the university has planned 50 days of events related to diversity. For more information, see www.desegregation.uga.edu.

Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, digital and broadcast journalism, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.

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