As imperfect as our present is in terms of race relations, it feels a thousand times superior to just the very recent past. This writer remembers his early-'70s boyhood in the rural Midwest, where white people — and not only the uneducated ones — didn't hesitate to use the "N" word casually and without shame and interracial couples still courted social indictment or worse. As for the deep South through most of the 1960s, it was frequently a zone of pure hostility and danger for those blacks and whites alike who dared challenge the racial status quo. The documentary Voices of Civil Rights examines this recent period of our history that today seems so distant, so much like another country altogether. The film takes the individual stories of the everyday men, women and children who lived through that time and weaves a narrative about courage, resilience and the heroic effort to realize the American dream of equality and freedom. Voices of Civil Rights screens at no charge tonight at 7 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium of the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org).
Thu., Feb. 17, 2011