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“40 Years Later: Now Can We Talk?” is a unique opportunity to capture on video the meeting of the first class of African American students (from 1969) with their white student counterparts for the first time in 40 years in Batesville, Mississippi. A small, rural town 25 miles west of Oxford, in the Mississippi Delta, in 1964, Batesville was forced by federal mandate to integrate its public school system. In 2009, the first graduating class of African American students (1969) was invited back to participate in their high school reunion. The documentary will be the focal point of a much larger and comprehensive project designed to mediate and enable conversations about race.
Featuring the powerful, tragic and provocative memories of both African American and White students, this film project will reveal the overt discrimination and racism toward the African-American student population. Funding is sought to finish production of the documentary including DVD menu items of high school and college students responding to the documentary, a curriculum guide and discussion questions all of which will be made available on the project website. These components will engage young people in dialogue about their lives, listening to and valuing their stories about the lived experience of racism, and working with them to imagine and enact solutions. Ultimately, the film will be used as a coalition-building tool, to begin a healing process among the community of Batesville, and will trigger a healing process in other communities as well. “40 Years Later” will make this historic conversation visible and invites all to participate.