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Documentary Film Review: "At The River"

The names of many of the heroes of the Civil Rights movement are well known to us today: MLK, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers—the list goes on. But there were unsung heroes of the movement as well. Among these were white men of the cloth in rural towns and small cities of the American South, whose congregations might be wearing white cloaks on Saturday night before attending services the next morning, believing that they could both be good Christians as well as racist segregationists. Some of these pastors took a stand against the views of their own parishioners, welcoming Black people to join them in the pews and worship with them on Sunday mornings. Taking this position wasn’t always easy. Sometimes it was dangerous; sometimes, it cost these men their jobs.

As a child, Carolyn Crowder, filmmaker and self-described “bred racist,” struggled to reconcile what she learned from her pastors and her parents’ commitment to the belief that whites were superior to their Black neighbors. Eventually, she moved north to seek communities with views more in line with her own. Years later, using money left to her by her father, she made At the River, a feature-length documentary featuring interviews with dozens of pastors who stood up for their belief that all of God’s children should be welcomed as equals, exploring what they felt at the time, what this belief cost them, and how the struggled to defend it.

While the film is not currently available to the public, Carolyn joined Hollister to speak about the film and some of the stories behind its production. We will update our event section with the details of any future screenings, so that you can have the opportunity to see this important film featuring some of the unsung heroes of the fight for racial equality.

And consider following the Damariscotta, Maine’s Lincoln Theater for events and showings of some fabulous films.



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