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50 Years Later: Looking Back with “Watsons”



Fifty years ago today, on June 11, 1963, Governor George Wallace blocked a doorway at the University of Alabama in a futile attempt to prevent black students from enrolling. That same day, President John F. Kennedy responded by delivering a historic civil rights address  in which he promised to introduce the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just hours after Kennedy’s speech, shortly after midnight on June 12, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated at his Mississippi home, sparking nationwide outrage.

These and other key events of 1963 provide the backdrop for The Watsons Go to Birmingham, our Walden Family Theater adaptation of Christopher Paul Curtis’ award-winning novel about an average American family that embarks on an unforgettable road trip. Starring Anika Noni Rose, Wood Harris, Skai Jackson and David Alan Grier, the story unfolds in the midst of a defining period for the civil rights movement that left our nation forever changed.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham premieres Sept. 20 on Hallmark Channel. In the meantime, why not grab a front-row seat to history in the making with this sampling of excellent documentaries about the civil rights movement:

1. Eyes on the Prize

Over the course of 14 hours, this award-winning PBS miniseries covers all the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1965.

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2. 4 Little Girls

Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated HBO documentary about the notorious 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

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3. Mighty Times: The Children’s March

Produced by Teaching Tolerance in association with HBO, this documentary tells the story of how the young people of Birmingham braved fire hoses, police dogs and arrest in order to march against segregation.

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4. Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders

The firsthand stories of the Mississippi women who risked their lives in the fight for civil rights and emerged as heroines.

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5. Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music—the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in paddy wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality.

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