Soundtrack for a Revolution Documentary Review
Our family was among the first in our small town to have a television. I remember watching I Love Lucy, the Ed Sullivan Show, The Gary Moore Show, and Saturday morning cartoons, but I hadn’t realized how important news programs were until I was reminded by Soundtrack for a Revolution.
I was only five years old at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, but I realize now that the images are part of the backdrop of my childhood. Rosa Parks’ arrest, the Little Rock High School integration requiring Federal Troops, Birmingham Police Chief Bull Conner’s use of high-pressure hoses and attack dogs on children, the Freedom Riders, death and violence that accompanied this non-violent movement, all roll on in my memory. Just as important as the images of the assassination of President Kennedy, so are the memories of the March on Washington, and the death of Martin Luther King. These were the things that framed and influenced my worldview.
I heard my Father and many of his friends of the time using racist language and espousing segregation and the belief that African-Americans were not really human, and deserved the treatment they received. The contrast between their language and actions and what I felt while I watched the news changed me forever. At that point, I looked at my father and his friends and found them wanting. Although his behavior toward individuals softened somewhat over the years, he didn’t actually change his mind. I never recovered my childhood respect for him, and I’m certain he went to his grave not really understanding why.
On the other hand, my Mother only grew in stature in my eyes. Once, while entertaining friends for dinner, a woman in the gathering used a negative racial epithet. My Mother said to the woman, and the entire group “We don’t use that language in this house. If that is not okay with you, you are welcome to leave.” That image is also filed away in my memory as an example of a brave person standing up to cruelty, as a demonstration of what is right to do. Both Mom and Dad were raised in Kansas in the Twenties. Both had similar teachings about race and difference. One overcame them, one did not.
Produced by Danny Glover and written and directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, This film uses music to emphasize the arrogance of George Wallace, the hatred spewing from the mouths and hearts of other elected officials, the deaths of men, women and children, and the determination and ultimate success of the marchers and protesters. It is a powerful tribute to the brave people who fought so hard for freedom.
This documentary includes interviews with musicians, political activists and many, many film clips. It also includes performances by The Roots, John Legend, Wyclef Jean, Joss Stone, the Blind Boys of Alabama and many more. It can be rented from Netflix, purchased from Amazon or found in many local libraries.