Documentary Devoted to Smalls Shown
Early African-American Politician
By Edwin Fenwick
The Department of History and Government hosted an event Feb. 25 dedicated to Robert Smalls, a pioneering African-American politician.
Dr. Sammye Miller said that the film was about a black man who made progress from slavery to Capitol Hill. Smalls became one of the first black men in politics. Miller felt that with us living in the time of our recently elected first black president the film documentary of Smalls was important for this generation.
The documentary, "Robert Smalls: A Patriot's Journey," was narrated by Sean Patrick Thomas and was very informative. At least 60 to 70 students were in attendance, some were there for class and others just to learn.
Smalls was a very headstrong man; he had always possessed leadership qualities. He was born in 1839, a time where life was extremely hard for African Americans. The documentary reveals the development of American democracy and the origins of civil rights movement. The purpose of the documentary is to honor those such as Smalls for pushing the boundaries, not taking no for an answer, and ultimately opening the door for men such as President Barack Obama.
During Small's political career, he was very active in the development of the South Carolina public school system and was also the catalyst for the integration of Philadelphia's public transportation system. After Smalls resigned from office in 1887 he worked day and night to hold back the tide pf domestic terrorism designed to disenfranchise African Americans in the democratic progress.
Smalls fought for equal opportunity among the races in business, politics, and education. In 1895 Smalls wrote, "My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be equal. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life."
During the documentary Smalls great, great granddaughter did a video interview and she stated, "my family was always taught that we were slaves just born during slavery times, and that we are capable of anything."
The documentary was produced by DoubleBack Productions, LLC. Smalls documentary has been aired on BETJ, SCETV, and a PBS station in South, Carolina. The documentary explores the leadership and legacy of an African American who sought to inspire his country to live up to its ideals of peace, freedom and justice for all.