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Filmmaker, civil rights veteran visiting Wellesley

Wellesley College will host award-winning filmmaker Clennon L. King at the screening of his civil rights documentary about the bloodiest campaign of the entire movement, which directly led to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing Jim Crow segregation from coast to coast.

King will introduce “Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 Black Lives Matter Movement That Transformed America” on Wednesday, March 7, at 4 p.m. at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum, Collins Cinema, 106 Central Street, Wellesley. The screening will be followed King hosting audience Q&A and discussion on race and history in America. Joining King for audience dialogue will be St. Augustine civil rights veteran and Roxbury resident Mimi Jones, whose photo circled the globe as a segregationist motel owner poured muriatic acid in his whites-only pool while Jones and others were attempting to desegregate it.

“Given the racially-charged climate in which America finds itself, this film and discussion will be timely, engaging and insightful,” said King.

With the use of riveting archival footage and firsthand accounts of frontline veterans, more than 45 voices help tell the story of the turbulent St. Augustine, Florida civil rights movement of 1963 and 1964. Among those voices are civil rights foot soldiers and field lieutenants, klansmen, segregationist politicians, White House insiders, law enforcement, clergy, journalists and more.

“Despite LBJ and MLK headlining the film’s real-life cast, audiences invariably come away asking why a campaign so pivotal appears to have been wiped from the hard drive of history,” said King.

An Albany, Georgia native, the filmmaker first began working on the documentary in 2002, after a four-year stint as a TV reporter and anchor at Jacksonville’s NBC News affiliate.

With a father who was a lawyer for Dr. Martin Luther King (no relation), King grew up steeped in civil rights history. Well aware of nearby St. Augustine’s rich civil rights past, King began tracking down veterans of the campaign.

“I wanted to capture and chronicle their stories while they were still here,” he said, noting nearly a third of those interviewed are now deceased. Thirteen years in the making, the film premiered in February 2015 before the League of Women Voters in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Since then, King has presented at multiple institutions across the country, including Dartmouth College, Brandeis, Boston College, National Park Service’s African Burial Ground of New York City, Green River College outside Seattle, University of Texas at Austin, and Flagler College in St. Augustine, where the campaign unfolded.

In June 2015, “Passage at St. Augustine” earned The Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking at the 2015 Roxbury International Film Festival.

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