The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Documentary Short (Robin Fryday, Gail Dolgin).
Watched November 7, 2012.

Out of all the films I have been seeing lately, I am ecstatic to begin watching the documentaries.  My genre, my niche, my love.  The Barber of Birmingham was a fairly good way to start off.  If anyone is curious, it is currently available for viewing on the PBS website and is less than thirty minutes in length.

 

No matter your political affiliation, this was certainly a touching film.  It features James Armstrong, an 85 year old man who lives in Birmingham, Alabama.  He is a hero, by our standards–one of the many foot soldiers of the civil rights movement.  A man who once stood at the court house steps to argue with the sherif about his voting rights and was one of the first to integrate his children into white schools, the film shows his awe, joy, and pride as Obama becomes the first black President of the United States.

 

There is a little bit of story telling through dialogue, but also a lot through stillness and reflection.  There are a few other interviews featured, but it is primarily about Mr. Armstrong.  He is a barber.  One of his most impactful stories was about how many times he had been arrested in his life, or his wife, or even his daughter when she was only thirteen years old.  He also recalls the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights, and walks the bridge every year in remembrance.  After living a life like his, and then going on to witness the inauguration of our nation’s first black President, he is almost speechless with joy and pride.

 

I enjoyed The Barber of Birmingham.  It was very touching and I feel as if it communicated well through its simplicity and quietness.  It had a big message but didn’t push an agenda–it just was.

 

Sources: IMDBPaste MagazineThe Independent CriticIndie Wire

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