WSU film series highlights Civil Rights Movement

4 Little Girls film poster image 


PULLMAN, Wash. – Fifty years ago on an early Sunday morning, members of the Ku Klux Klan hid a box of dynamite under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The ensuing explosion killed four girls, none older than 14, and injured 22 others. The bombing marked a turning point for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The 1963 church bombing is the focus of a free film, “4 Little Girls”, to be shown 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Washington State University’s Talmadge Anderson Heritage House, located at 935 B Street.

The film is the first of three to be shown as part of the “Civil Rights. The Movement & The Legacy” Film Festival.

Marc Robinson, director of WSU’s Culture and Heritage houses, said part of the mission of the houses is to provide programming that celebrates diversity, encourages dialogue and builds community.

“We also recognize the historical significance of this academic year, which spans the 50th anniversaries of the March on Washington, 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” he said. “Our nation is in an important time of commemoration and reflection and we think this film festival will help engage WSU in that discussion.”

The second film, “The ACLU Freedom Files: Voting Rights”, is scheduled for Wed., Oct. 16, 4 p.m., also in the Talmadge Anderson Heritage House. The right to vote is a keystone of democracy, but many Americans still fight for this fundamental freedom despite the passage of the Voting Rights Act 48 years ago. This film will explore how more citizens are feeling disenfranchised from the government.

The final film of fall semester is “Broken On All Sides”, a look at America’s exploding prison populations and the disproportionate number of people of color in the prison system. It will be shown on Wed., Nov. 13, in the Casa Latina Culture House, 955 B Street in Pullman.

Jenne Schmidt, diversity education coordinator and lead organizer of the film festival, said it is easy for people to think that because the Civil Rights Movement is over, racism no longer exists.

“We wanted to put on a film festival that challenged this argument by illuminating the injustices that remain today, while also paying tribute to those who fought and organized in the 1960’s,” Schmidt said. “We want the films to feel relevant and accessible to the lives of students who may have little context and knowledge of these historic events.”