While spending many days in prison after he was arrested at the march, photographs of police and dogs attacking the children drew nationwide attention. King told him and the other children, “What you do this day will have an impact on children yet unborn.” He continues, “I’ll never forget that.
I didn’t even understand it, but I knew it was powerful, powerful, very powerful.” Hrabowski went on to become president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he has made extraordinary strides to support African American students who pursue math and science degrees.
Luper relates more stores about what it was like to grow up in a family that was constantly involved in the movement. ’” Many college student activists sacrificed or postponed their formal education, but they were also picking up practical skills that would shape their later careers. We didn’t come with that experience.” Thelwell’s first job after he graduated from college was to work for SNCC in Washington, D. Similar reflections about young people in the freedom struggle are available in other collections in the Library.
While some young people came into the movement by way of their parents’ activism and their explicit encouragement, others had to make an abrupt and hard break in order to do so, with some even severing familial ties. By that I mean, how do you write a press conference [release]? One such compelling narrative can be found in the webcast of the 2009 Library of Congress lecture by journalist and movement activist, Tracy Sugarman, entitled, “We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns: The Kids Who Fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi.” As is readily apparent from that lecture and the previous examples, drawn from the Civil Rights History Project collection, the movement completely transformed the lives of young activists.
“Hey, this sort of feels like playing God,” I complained at one point. “Just tell me if you like him or not.” Then I mentioned an actor I liked, and he said, “Nope, he’s got weird eyes.” And I saw how one’s acting job could hang by a thread that small. “Needless to say, I want the movie to be good,” he said.
“And if it is, it should give your book a lot of shelf life.” Which, of course, it has. Redford sent his production manager to scout the Twin Cities as a set, but since the Minnesota Film Board had yet to be founded, there wasn’t much support for it, and they decided instead to film in Chicago.
At its height in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement drew children, teenagers, and young adults into a maelstrom of meetings, marches, violence, and in some cases, imprisonment.
Why did so many young people decide to become activists for social justice?
He never did cast Conrad in the Midwest; he used California actor Timothy Hutton in the role, but he did find Scott Doebler, a Twin Cities drama student, to play the role of Conrad’s brother, Buck.
And I remember him telling me how much he loved Mary Tyler Moore as Beth, the mother: “You barely have to breathe at her, and she knows exactly what you want.” I got to visit the set in Chicago twice, and I met all 80 people on the crew and found out what each one of them did on the movie.