The Green McAdoo Cultural Center is pleased to announce that the Museum is set to kick off Black History Month with a screening of the documentary “The American South As We Know It” followed by a conversation with Frederick Murphy. This event will take place on February 2nd from 5-7 p.m. with free admission.
Frederick Murphy grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee. He went to school, played basketball and lived the everyday American teen life.
Frederick had a good sized extended family and loved to hear the stories the older generation would share when they all got together to celebrate one thing or another. On one particular occasion while Frederick was visiting family in Illinois, he learned something that surprised and, eventually, challenged him.
Looking through the pictures his Illinois family had to go along with their stories Frederick Murphy discovered that his ancestors had been enslaved. As a 16-year-old enjoying the trappings of youth the news seemed to make little impact.
Yet, as the next year passed, he grew more and more aware that the news he had uncovered had profoundly influenced him and would significantly change his life. Frederick decided to embark on an Oral History Project. He began researching his genealogy.
Around this same time Mr. Murphy graduated high school and then continued his education at Tennessee State University acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Among the many things he learned was that his family had been enslaved first in North Carolina and then later in Dixon, Tennessee.
In those 750 pages is the obituary of Briney Talley, 112 years old, the headline in part reads, “Came from North Carolina—cooked pan cakes for George Washington while he was on a visit to that state.” However, the subject of his research didn’t always prove so sublime. It was an emotional roller coaster as Frederick uncovered the atrocities of slavery and the continued effect it had on his family and others.
One of the discoveries he made along the way was the fact that the stories he unearthed were the stories of ordinary people. Some slaves, some children of former slaves, some who had lived during Jim Crow, people of varied backgrounds and experiences. These were people no one had heard of and their history was their own. Yet, Frederick knew that stories like those of his family were everywhere. Ordinary people experiencing extraordinary events.
The desire to share the experiences of the everyday man during a time of social unrest known as the Civil Rights Movement birthed the documentary, “The American South as We Know It.”
As Mr. Murphy produced and directed this film he traveled throughout the South interviewing dozens of people over a year and a half; people who lived through one of the most turbulent eras of American History.
The time and effort culminated in an award winning documentary. The film has been submitted and screened in several film festivals including the Peachtree Village International Film Festival, the Maupintown Film Festival, the NC Black Film Festival, and the Hollywood South Urban Film Festival where “The American South As We Know It” also won Best Documentary Feature.