February 27, 2017
The premiere of the documentary film "The Story of Shelley v. Kraemer" went wonderfully! The premier took place in the theater in the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, Missouri (in Forest Park). The publicity for the event had been great (NBC, FOX, newspaper articles), so the theater was absolutely packed. Before the event started, we had a reception for family and those who helped with the film, and that was a great time for many of them to meet each other for the first time! Then, after the reception, everyone moved to the theater, where the general public had already started to gather. By the time everyone was seated, more chairs had to be brought in.
There were several speakers before we moved to the viewing of the film, and some of these were Gwen Moore from the Missouri History Museum; Art Holliday from KSDK Channel 5, and Charles Bryson (representing the Mayor's office) of the St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency. All were wonderful speakers and delivered powerful messages. After our speakers, I then gave some "background and context" for the film, including some "little known facts" about the "Shelley v. Kraemer" U.S. Supreme Court ruling. We then watched the film, and after it was over and the credits rolled across the screen, those in the crowd started standing -
For those who could not attend the premiere, not to worry -- the documentary film will be the centerpiece of the new exhibit at the Missouri History Museum that will open officially on March 11, 2017 -- and will run for a whole year there! The exhibit is called "St. Louis #1 in Civil Rights," and the exhibit will be there for the whole year as well. If you get a chance, I encourage you to see the exhibit; it is both educational and entertaining -- and appropriate for all ages.
I'll attach to this note a couple of pictures from the evening. The first is me with Chatlee Williams, the last surviving child of J.D. and Ethel Shelley (she did a wonderful job in the film!). The second is me with several members of the Shelley family (from left to right, Deb Davis, Donald Beckham, me, and Monica Beckham). All of them are some of the best and nicest people I've every known.
One final note: I want to give a special "Thanks!" to Douglas Hartley, who did such outstanding photography (both still shots and film footage) for the documentary film. Douglas Hartley is an incredibly superb photographer, and the film would not have been such a success without his great work.
Again, if you are in the St. Louis area after March 11, you might want to stop in the Missouri History Museum to see the film and exhibit.