Civil Rights Video, “The Road To Little Rock,” Premieres Jan. 24

Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford, on her way into Little Rock Central High School on September 4, 1957. (Video still. Image by Will Counts.)

On Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m., a part of the civil rights movement will come back to life on the big screen. The Fargo Theatre will show “The Road to Little Rock,” a 30-minute documentary video that centers on the role that U.S. District Judge Ronald N. Davies played in the desegregation of the nation’s schools.

Dr. Terrence Roberts, a Little Rock Nine member who served on the video project’s task force as an adviser, will take part in a discussion panel following the video presentation that includes filmmaker Art Phillips, moderator, retired FPS teacher and historian Carl Oberholtzer, and FPS Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Schatz. Following the Fargo premiere, the video will also be shown at Philander Smith College in Little Rock.

Judge Davies, during his time on the federal bench.
Davies, who in 1957 was called to the Eastern Arkansas District Court to help out with a backlog of cases, found himself thrown into the case of Aaron v. Cooperand the integration of nine black students into the all-white Little Rock Central High School.

The video, produced by Fargo-based Video Arts Studios, is at the center of a two-year research and documentary project technically known as the Judge Davies – Phase II/Curriculum Project. It is a central part of K-12 curriculum being written for grades 4, 8, and 11, and will be available for teachers to utilize in their classrooms when they are studying civil rights, beginning in the fall of 2013.

Through the eyes of members of the Little Rock Nine, the video presents a vivid picture of the time and circumstance of the events that led to their integration into Central High School, and Judge Davies’ involvement.

Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown, with historian Carl Oberholtzer.

Funding for the $200,000 curriculum project has been primarily from grants and donors. The “Road to Little Rock” is sponsored in part by Bell State Bank & Trust, The Forum, Ron D. Offutt Family Foundation, University of North Dakota and the UND Foundation and Alumni Association. The project is supported in part by grants from the Arkansas and North Dakota Humanities Councils, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State Historical Society of North Dakota with funding from the North Dakota Legislature.

The January 24 event is free and open to the public.

For a sneak peek at the film, visit the video’s website, Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown, left, with historian Carl Oberholtzer.