Penn State Law is hosting a screening of The Memphis 13: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement’s Smallest Pioneers. The public is welcome.
The film features interviews with thirteen African-American students who, in 1961, walked into what had been an all-white school in Memphis. The documentary also includes interviews with their families as well as students, teachers, and leaders who lived through the experience.
“In 1954, the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education
which held racial segregation in public education unconstitutional, but the Court’s subsequent enforcement decision in Brown II
left much room for public schools to evade Brown I’s
mandate,” said Carla Pratt
, professor of law at Penn State, who teaches and writes in the area of race and the law and is one of the organizers of the event.
“When we got to the school it was completely surrounded with police, police everywhere, lined up the sidewalk from the curb to the building they were on and on. They said the nastiest things—police now—said the nastiest things to me and my daughter as we walked up to the school door,” said Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles in a 2011 interview
with WKNOFM. Rev. Kyles, who is in the film, walked his daughter into her first-grade classroom on October 3, 1961.
This event is sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the Law School Diversity Committee in honor of Black History Month. The film will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 11 in the Greg Sutliff Auditorium, Lewis Katz Building, University Park, PA, and the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Lewis Katz Hall, Carlisle, PA. The film screening is live in both locations, and a discussion will follow.