comment
New Releases: March 2014

 

This month, the Texas Archive of the Moving Image’s featured new releases take viewers through several decades of social activism in Austin, Texas. Donor Jon Montgomery was active in local politics, a fact that is reflected in his home movies that document social movements in Central Texas.  

In this moving home movie, the city of Austin mourns the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April of 1968. Students and community members of all races congregate on the University of Texas campus for a memorial service. The amassed group then marches down Guadalupe Street to the Texas State Capitol building in protest of violence and in support of racial equality. A service sponsored by the Austin Council of Churches followed the march at Municipal Auditorium (now Palmer Events Center).

Years later, the citizens of Austin are still protesting violence, but this time, the violence is further from home – on the Iran-Iraq border. This home movie documents a peace gathering held in 1982 at Austin’s Wooldridge Square Park after President Reagan took Iraq off the list of countries “supporting terrorism” and began to sell them weapons. The protesters in the film hold signs objecting to the use of bombs, as well as the violence of the Khomeini regime against the Iranian people.

The following year, the Ku Klux Klan came to Austin. Austin’s City Council made the controversial decision to grant the KKK permission to march in downtown Austin on February 19, 1983. Council members said that they “deplore, abhor, and detest the Ku Klux Klan,” but that the right to freedom of speech is indivisible. The council members that opposed the decision called the KKK “a racist terrorist organization” that should not be given a public voice to “advocate and perpetuate violence against black people and other minorities.” This home movie captures scenes of concerned citizens responding peacefully against the Klan and the Austin Police Department coming out in force to protect the KKK’s right to march, reflecting the continuing complexity of race relations in the United States.

Enjoy seeing Austin in action and check back next month for more New Releases!