The Global Search for Education: Director Juan Mejia Botero Addresses Rewriting Race History in America
Directed by Juan Mejia Botero, Abbeville: Lynching in America, can be screened on the Planet Classroom Network YouTube Channel this month. The film documents the remarkable journey of a family and community to overcome a century of silence and a story about racial injustice and the healing power of truth. In 1916, a 56 year old successful black farmer and leader named Anthony Crawford was beaten, stabbed, shot and hung by a white mob in Abbeville, South Carolina because he dared to argue with a white merchant about the price of cottonseed. After the lynching, Abbeville’s white residents voted to expel the Crawford family from the area and seize their property. South Carolina’s governor declared himself powerless to protect the family from violence. Hence, most of the surviving relatives were forced to flee. One hundred years later, the Crawford family returns to the town square to acknowledge the racial violence that once drove them away.
Produced with the Alabama based Equal Justice Initiative, the story is focused on the importance of commemorating, remembering and disrupting history. As Bryan Stevenson states, “we won’t be able to move forward until we acknowledge our history and address it.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Director Juan Mejia Botero.
Juan, thank you for sharing your remarkable documentary with us. What drew you to telling this story?
We had been doing work with the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama for a while. Crawford’s story really illustrated the deep significance of recognizing and rewriting history… pushing a real narrative.
What would you say was your biggest surprise during the process of creating this story alongside members of the Abbeville community?
How touching it would be…. After all it was a memorial unveiling, a monument.
How did members of the community feel about sharing this history via the film?
They want this moment memorialized, immortalized.
“We won’t be able to move forward until we acknowledge our history and address it” -Bryan Stevanson
Do you believe the community has been able to move forward or not?
I can’t speak for members of the family themselves… I think there was some healing. But we have such a long way to go in terms of acknowledging the real history in this country and writing a new narrative.
What has been the feedback from audiences to the film to date? What do you hope will be the long term impact of your story with international audiences?
Again, the importance of history and of really knowing and recognizing and acknowledging it. And e.g Critical Race Theory
Thank you Juan.
C. M. Rubin With Juan Mejia Botero
Don’t Miss: Abbeville: Lynching in America, directed by Juan Mejia Botero, can be screened on the Planet Classroom Network YouTube Channel this month. This film is curated for Planet Classroom by SIMA Classroom.