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Gray Colloquium: Clennon King Presents Civil Rights Film
Gray Colloquium: Clennon King Presents Civil Rights Film

As part of this year's St. Mark's Community & Equity Day, journalist and filmmaker Clennon L. King presented his Civil Rights documentary Passage at St. Augustine: The 1964 Black Lives Matter Movement That Transformed America as part of the School's Gray Colloquium Series.

Mr. King was introduced by Ms. Stacey Lee, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life at St. Mark's. After a brief presentation by Mr. King, where he urged students to "think critically," the lights went down and Passage at St. Augustine began.

The film tells the story of the lesser-known but enormously significant Civil Rights movement in St. Augustine, Florida; particularly the sequence of impactful events over fifteen months led directly to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. In interviews with civil rights field lieutenants, foot soldiers, law enforcement, segregationists, journalists, clergy, Klansmen, White House insiders, business leaders, civilians and politicians, Mr. King relates an important piece of history. Using images and film—sometimes graphic—from that time, he brings the stark reality of the Civil Rights struggle home.

In a question-and-answer period following each showing of the film, Mr. King entered into powerful and insightful dialogue with many interested St. Markers. He pointed out that the challenge was now theirs: to examine themselves first, to question everything, and to "do your job" working towards a future with equality for all.

Mr. King remained on campus to observe some of the ongoing Community & Equity Day workshops. He also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Malcolm Farmer III, SM Class of 1957. A member of the St. Mark's Cloister of Distinguished Alumni/ae, Mac Farmer was himself a Civil Rights lawyer down in Mississippi during the mid-1960s.

The C. Boyden Gray Colloquium Series is designed to engage St. Mark's students in an exploration of one complex global issue annually. Students hear from outside speakers with varying viewpoints, participate in small group discussions, write about and debate the issue, and take part in all-community events. C. Boyden Gray '60, former Board President and current Trustee Emeritus, has committed $1.5 million to fund this annual yearlong learning exercise. St. Markers, Gray believes, "should think in big terms and be inquisitive about the outside world." Gray, a former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, White House counsel to the first President Bush, and recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, hopes that tackling these topics in an intensive fashion will inspire students to serve their country and the world. The theme for this year's Gray Colloquium series is "Building the Future."