How strange it must seem, to the generations that lived through it
all. Today, students from every definable race and ethnic category
study and squirm shoulder to shoulder in the same public school
classrooms, learning about something called segregation—as a
vocabulary word on a pop quiz, a chapter in their history textbooks, or
a topic for the debate team.
Over the next month, a four-part television documentary aired by the Public Broadcasting Service will revisit an era when the forced separation of races, and the struggle to end legalized discrimination, was as true to life as street protests and lynchings. "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," which debuts Oct. 1, traces the nation's long and often violent journey to desegregation, from the end of the Civil War through the 1960s.
"What most impressed me were the things people did, that you never heard about before," said Richard Wormser, the New York filmmaker who wrote and produced the series. "There were a lot of unknown stories, and the film gave us the opportunity to tell a lot of those stories."
The tales include nation-shaping moments such as the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared "separate but equal" schools unconstitutional. But it also mentions local skirmishes, such as student-led protests against segregated public schools.
Mr. Wormser—who has produced more than 100 films and videos for television, schools, and other venues—spent seven years working on the documentary.
The series begins Tuesday, Oct. 1, with subsequent installments appearing Oct. 8, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22. Check local listings for times and channels.
—Sean Cavanagh [email protected]
Vol. 22, Issue 4, Page 6