New documentary highlights efforts to desegregate schools in the South

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Monday marked the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. It’s a time for collective reflection.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech mentions several dreams, including his dream to have the children of slave owners and the children of slaves in school together.

“My four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said King.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Atlanta author Douglas Blackmon remembered what it was like in the first first-grade class in Mississippi with white and black students learning together.

“What he was imagining is if they could just get children into the same classrooms together, somehow that would be the way we transition,” said Blackmon.

After the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, it took years before you could see any changes in the South. Blackmon spent the last 10 years interviewing his classmates, chronicling the successes and struggles of desegregation in his new documentary The Harvest.

“At the end of the film, we ask the question ‘Was it all worth it?’ All the effort and energy and conflict at times. I think that the answer to that comes through, yes it was. The fact that I teach at Georgia State University, it’s astounding to think that all of those students couldn’t be in the same room just 30 or 40 years ago,” said Blackmon.

The Atlanta premiere of the documentary will take place at the Rialto Center for the Arts on Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. The ticketed event is free and open to the public.

Abby Kousouris

Abby Kousouris

Abby Kousouris joined the Atlanta News First team as a statewide reporter in October of 2022.