The Charleston Civil Rights Film Fest is the brainchild of Jon Hale, a professor of education and history at the College of Charleston, and Benjamin Hedin, accomplished scholar on the civil rights movement. Showcasing shorts, features, and documentaries, the fest explores the long history of the freedom struggle in America. Sited in a city of rare historic significance, the event also engages with the community to promote new forms of activism. Founded in 2017, the fest promises to be an annual fixture of the Lowcountry calendar.
The College of Charleston
Meet the Directors
Jon Hale is a professor of education and history at the College of Charleston. He is the author of The Freedom Schools: A History of Student Activism in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, recently published with Columbia University Press. He is also co-editor of To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools. His work has also been published in the istory of Education Quarterly, Journal of African American History, South Carolina Historical Magazine, The Atlantic, Education Newsweek, and CNN. He is a co-director of the Quality Education Project.
Benjamin Hedin is the author of In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now and the editor of Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader. He wrote and produced the feature documentary Two Trains Runnin', a Critics' Pick of the New York Times. His work has been published by The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, The Nation, The Oxford American, Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, and other publications. Hedin has taught at The New School for Social Research in New York City, New York University, and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
David Dennis interrupted his collegiate experience during his freshman year in 1961 to work in the civil rights movement in the South, particularly Mississippi and Louisiana, where he was arrested over 30 times for activities to help register disenfranchised voters. He was on the first freedom bus ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. He served as field secretary for CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) and was a co-director of COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) and of the effort to organize Freedom Summer 1964. In 1972, he was an organizer of a successful challenge to the Louisiana Democratic Party structure that resulted in an African American chairman and a majority black delegation being sent to the national convention, the first time since Reconstruction. In the early 1990s Dennis became committed to the need for quality education to gain entrance to first class citizenship. He currently serves as director of the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project, a nonprofit that focuses on civil-rights based math instruction.
Danny Glover is an actor, producer, and humanitarian who has been a commanding presence on screen, stage, and television for more than 25 years. He trained at the Black Actors' Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater. A Broadway debut in Master Harold...and the Boys brought him national recognition and led director Robert Benton to cast Glover in a leading role in Places in the Heart. The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir's Witness and Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film and went on to star in three hugely successful Lethal Weapon sequels. Glover has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice, and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa. For these efforts, Glover received a 2006 DGA Honor. Glover served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, focusing on issues of poverty, disease, and economic development in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and serves as UNICEF Ambassador. In 2005, Glover co-founded Louverture Films, a venture dedicated to the production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity.
Sam Pollard is one of the most respected names in the world of documentary cinema, the recipient of an Oscar nomination and multiple Emmy awards. He produced the HBO documentaries Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise. Pollard directed the acclaimed documentary Slavery by Another Name, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and subsequently aired on PBS. He also directed four episodes of PBS’s American Masters--including, most recently, August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand--and two installments of the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize. 2016 saw the premiere of his critically hailed masterpiece Two Trains Runnin'. Pollard edited the documentaries Sinatra: All or Nothing at All, By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, and Feel Like Going Home, part of The Blues series presented by Martin Scorsese. Since 1994 Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Judy Richardson was on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Georgia, Mississippi, and Lowndes County, Alabama from 1963-66. She ran the office for Julian Bond’s successful first campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives. In addition to producing documentaries for broadcast and museums (including the award-winning 14-hour PBS series Eyes On The Prize, PBS’ Malcolm X: Make It Plain, and all the videos for the "Little Rock 9" National Park Service Visitor Center), she writes, lectures, and conducts workshops on the history and relevance of the civil rights movement. Richardson was a co-founder of Washington, D.C.’s Drum & Spear Bookstore, once the largest African American bookstore in the country; worked for a variety of social justice organizations (including the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice); has an honorary Doctorate from Swarthmore College; and is on the board of the SNCC Legacy Project, working on collaborations with Duke University, and is a former Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brown University.