MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A short film directed by 11-year-old twin sisters that highlights the history of the Civil Rights Movement will be screened for the first time in its entirety at the Civil Rights Memorial Center on Feb. 16.
The film, “Architects of Change,” documents the history of black people from ancient Africa, through slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement, and includes modern-day civil rights advocates. The film includes an interview the twins conducted with Barbara Cross, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963 that killed four little girls.
The twins were inspired to direct the film after participating in the Rosa Parks Museum’s Architects of Change summer day camp, including a tour of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery; a walking tour of civil rights sites in Montgomery; and other historical locations.
As part of their independent research, the twins also toured the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.; Tuskegee University; the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — where King co-pastored with his father, Martin Luther King Sr.; the home where Martin Luther King Jr. was raised in Atlanta; and the parsonage of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, where King lived while he pastored that church.
A shortened, 12-minute version of the film debuted at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University on Alabama’s inaugural Rosa Parks Day, Dec. 1, 2018. The full, 32-minute film will be shown for the first time in its entirety at the Civil Rights Memorial Center on Saturday, Feb. 16. A panel discussion including Cross and other civil rights advocates will take place immediately after the screening.
Montgomery City Councilman Fred Bell; Claudette Mitchell, Vice Chair of the Montgomery School Board; and Felicia A. Bell, PhD, director of the Rosa Parks Museum, will be among the panelists.
“Last summer, we learned about the four little girls who died in the church bombing, and we were shocked to learn that one of them was the same age we are now,” film co-director Breanna Bennett said. “We have to learn about our history, and teach others about it at the same time.”
Film co-director Brooke Bennett said: “The courageous people who stood up for themselves during the Civil Rights Movement, and all they had to go through, inspired us to do our documentary about the African-American people’s struggle for equal rights and social justice.”
Felicia A. Bell, PhD, director of the Rosa Parks Museum, said: “This film offers an opportunity to learn not only about the Civil Rights Movement — including Rosa Parks and her lifelong legacy of activism — but also about the struggles of African-American people throughout this nation’s history. We are proud that Breanna and Brooke Bennett, two of our participants in the Architects of Change summer day camp, were inspired by our program to direct this important film.”
“Architects of Change” received national recognition on Feb. 5, when Breanna Bennett was named one of Alabama’s top two youth volunteers of 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program that honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The award is for her work with her sister, Brooke, on the documentary, and her sister is equally deserving of the award. Breanna was nominated for this prestigious award by 4H Montgomery, which provides research-based educational programs in agriculture; forestry, wildlife, and natural resources. Breanna participated in the 4H program this summer. She will travel this spring to Washington, D.C., joining the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2019.
Debut of full “Architects of Change” documentary on the history of African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Panel discussion on the Civil Rights Movement will immediately follow the screening.
11-year-old twin film directors Breanna and Brooke Bennett
Barbara Cross, survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing
Montgomery City Councilman Fred Bell
Claudette Mitchell, Vice Chair of the Montgomery School Board
Felicia A. Bell, PhD, director of the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University
Donna Beisel, K-12 education coordinator at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University
Tafeni English, director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center, film host
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Civil Rights Memorial Center
400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104