Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
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The Memphis 13

Memphis Law Professor, Daniel Kiel, directs and produces documentary: The Memphis 13

New Screening Date Announced!
Thursday, Nov. 17
6:30 p.m.
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
1 N. Front St., Downtown Memphis

Public welcome. RSVP to ctdubey@memphis.edu or by calling (901) 678-4910.

Release courtesy of the National Civil Rights Museum

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

50 years ago, 13 African American first graders took courageous steps to enter 4 formerly all-white elementary schools and break the practice of segregation in the Memphis City Schools.  A half century later, their story is finally being told with the release of a new documentary film, The Memphis 13.   The film captures the experience of some of the civil rights movement’s smallest pioneers, providing a perspective through the eyes of 5- and 6-year-olds looking back on their place in history.

The film features interviews with all 13 pioneering families as well as white students, a teacher, and civil rights movement leadership.   Although each interviewee’s experience was unique, the film presents several common themes: the contrast of students trying to have a normal schooling experience amidst an extraordinary moment; the isolation of the children at the forefront of this social change; the angst of parents deciding whether to undertake the risk of sending their children to the first desegregated schools.

The documentary premiered at a private viewing at the National Civil Rights Museum on Monday, October 3, 2011, 50 years to the day after the 13 students first entered all-white schools. 

Daniel Kiel, the film’s director, is a law professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, who has written extensively on race in education in Memphis and elsewhere.  In 2008, Kiel received an initial grant from the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute of Social Change to collect oral histories of individuals involved in the initial Memphis City Schools desegregation in 1961.  Working with local filmmaker Jane Folk, Kiel compiled 21 interviews that are collected in the documentary.

Details about the film:

  • Website: www.thememphis13.com or www.facebook.com/thememphis13
  • Directed By:Daniel Kiel
  • Produced By: Daniel Kiel and Jane Folk
  • Edited By: David Kiern
  • Narrated By: Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
  • Run Time: Approx. 45 minutes
  • Sponsoring Organizations: Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change,   First Tennessee and National Civil Rights Museum

The Memphis 13 (and school attended):

  • Jacqueline Moore Christion (Springdale) (University of Memphis employee)
  • Sheila Malone Conway(Gordon)
  • Pamela Mayes Evans (Gordon)
  • E.C. Freeman Fentress (Rozelle) (deceased) (University of Memphis: BS 78, ME 86)
  • Menelik Fombi (Bruce)
  • Alvin Freeman (Gordon)
  • Deborah Ann Holt (Springdale)
  • Dwania Kyles (Bruce)
  • Sharon Malone (Gordon)
  • Joyce Bell White (Rozelle) (University of Memphis employee)
  • Leandrew Wiggins (Rozelle)
  • Clarence Williams (Rozelle)
  • Harry Williams (Bruce)

Contact Information:     

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