Thanks to everyone who attended the Fargo Premiere of “The Road to Little Rock” on January 24th. The film was the public’s first view of the curriculum being created for elementary, middle, and high schools regarding North Dakota Judge Ronald Davies’ role in civil rights history. We were thrilled at the attendance of over 800 people who came to watch, to learn, and to ask questions of the panel afterwards.
We have been collaborating with Fargo Public Schools over the past 18 months to create the video portion of the high school curriculum. It has been an incredible journey; working with Dr. Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine, filming Supreme Court Justice Breyer in Washington D.C., learning about Judge Davies from his family and being able to tell this important story.
From the initial contact about the dedication of Davies High School from Fargo Public Schools, we knew there was an important message to be told. Historian Carl Oberholtzer, Fargo Public Schools, everyone at Video Arts, as well as many others, created a tireless team of individuals who worked to make sure this project succeeded. We are forever grateful for their perseverance and the doors that were opened to us.
Here are some memorable moments of the evening through our eyes:
Aimee Mitchell – Associate Producer
“My brother-in-law, a self-proclaimed history buff, walked out of the premier and said ‘I learned something I didn’t know!’ He attended with his wife, my mother and father-in-law, as well as another sister-in-law and a good friend to support me.”
Art Phillips – Director/Producer
“One the many highlights of the evening was sitting next to Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine during the premiere. Almost two years ago, we first talked on the phone about the project, and now I am proud and blessed to call him my friend. I am so grateful to him for sharing his story in The Road to Little Rock.”
Jim Kirwan – Writer
“The highlight of the evening for me, was the words from Judge Davies’ son, Tom. As one of the screen writers on the project, I had read and researched much about the judge. However, Tom’s delightfully humorous stories about his mom and dad, revealed a side of his father that I hadn’t heard anywhere else.”
John Shea – Location Audio
“When I arrived at the theatre, I was completely overwhelmed by the turnout and amazing show of support and appreciation from the community. It showed me that the people of Fargo still possess the honor, respect, and dignity so well exemplified by Judge Davies.”
Marty Halgrimson – Director of Photography
“The most memorable thing to me was after the screening when two of my kids sitting on either side of me both looked at me and said ‘Wow, Dad, that was really good’. From teenagers – that is high praise!”
Mary Ann Phillips – Associate Producer
“A young man with a Davies High School sweatshirt came up to me to let me know how thrilled he was to be able to shake Dr. Roberts’ hand and to both apologize and thank him for what he went through.”
Robyn Thorvilson – Office Manager
“I started working at Video Arts this fall so had only seen pieces of the production. After watching the enthusiasm and passion that everyone was putting into the project, it was amazing seeing The Road to Little Rock in its entirety.”
Ryan Sailer – Editor
“Seeing the completed project on the big screen was so greatly satisfying. All the hard work we put into the project and the pressures of accurately portraying history were well worth the reactions from the audience and the chance to teach younger generations an important lesson from history. I think the questions generated during the panel discussion were a great first look into some of the discussions that will be had in classrooms following the presentation of this lesson.”
Steve Germaine – Composer
“It was both exciting and gratifying to see so many people in attendance.”
There will be a premiere of the film in Little Rock, AR in March, as well as premieres in both Grand Forks and Bismarck later this year. There have been many requests for another screening at the Fargo Theatre, so stay tuned for more information.
Our heartfelt thanks goes to all the donors and grant organizations who believed in “The Road to Little Rock” and financially supported the project. Thank you for taking the time to come out to the presentation. You touched our hearts and made the night very special. We’re moving into the next phase of the curriculum to create the elementary school version soon and will keep you posted!