THE CLINTON 12 (Keith Henry McDaniel) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Two years after the Supreme Court struck down the doctrine of separate but equal education in 1954, 12 teenagers from Clinton, Tennessee, became the first black students to integrate an all-white high school in the South.
It was a key moment in the American civil rights movement. In October 1958, someone blew up the school.
First-time documentarian Keith Henry McDaniel takes us through the story, from Brown vs. Board of Eduction, the 1951 lawsuit that launched the events, to the bombing. The film includes interviews with the 12 and other key players then and now, plus good footage on rabid racist John Kaspar and the riot he fomented. James Earl Jones's narration provides solid continuity and context.
The one flaw is the absence of follow-up on the question of the bombing. One sentence tells us the bomber was never caught - nothing more. Given that this is the story's big hook, it should have a bigger payoff.
This isn't objective journalism. It's sponsored by the Green McAdoo Foundation, devoted to preserving the legacy of the Clinton 12. But there's nothing here to suggest bias or distortion, and the filmmakers leave their pro-social message for the end.
Playing Tuesday, June 19, at Innis Town Hall as part of the ReelHeART Film Festival, which runs June 18 to 23.