Columbia, S.C. – Friends of African American Art & Culture (FAAAC), a Columbia Museum of Art membership affiliate group, announced the winners of its student film competition, Our Story Matters,at a red carpet awards ceremony on Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the Museum. The memorable evening brought together students and the community to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and commemorate a pivotal time in Columbia’s civil rights history. During the event, the top four entries were screened and the winner received $500, a video camera, and a year of membership to the Museum and FAAAC.
“I am excited that we were able to extend the commemoration activities of the 1963 civil rights efforts in Columbia to local high school students through the film competition, Our Story Matters,” says FAAAC President Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston. “It is gratifying to see the students engaged in learning about African-American and modern civil rights history while being taught how to produce a short documentary on their research.”
1st place went to Mike Hoffman, a senior at Spring Valley High School, for his film, An Epic Struggle in Photographs-Cecil Williams. The film focuses on Williams’ first-hand experiences and photographs of the civil rights movement, specifically the 1949 Briggs vs. Elliot case that originated in Clarendon County and the Orangeburg selective buying campaign. Hoffman learned the basics of cinematography last year in Advanced Media Arts taught by Josh Drews at Spring Valley. He hopes to continue to improve his media arts and writing skills at Wofford University.
2nd place went to Gabrielle Young, a junior at Lower Richland High School, for Civilis Bellum: The Story of Modjeska M. Simkins (1899-1992). Her short documentary explores the civilis bellum, or civil war, waged by the Columbia activist for civil and human rights and celebrates her legacy. Young currently serves as student body vice president, varsity softball co-captain, and Spanish club vice president. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, Morning News Crew, and Varsity Cross-country team. Young aspires to become a pediatrician, and possibly pursue a specialty in gastroenterology or oncology.
Taylor Lee and Zavius Seibles, juniors at A.C. Flora High School, received 3rd place for their film,Stories of the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina. In the film, they interview Claudia Smith Brinson, a journalist whose research is indispensable to the archive of civil rights stories about the history of the movement in Columbia and the efforts of James Felder, a tireless voting rights and education activist. Lee maintains an exceptional 4.04 GPA at A.C. Flora, while also earning a cosmology license at Heyward Career Center. Outside of school, she performs with Shaw’s Talent Model and Dance. Lee hopes to attend Winthrop University in Rock Hill and pursue a degree in the medical field. Seibles is also earning a cosmology license at Heyward Career Center and plans to attend college for a degree in nursing after high school.
4th place was awarded to Jalon Percy and Wanja Brown, seniors at A.C. Flora High School, for their film, Leevy Johnson’s Story. The students gained experience and inspiration from interviewing and documenting the life of the South Carolina attorney for their film. Percy is the president and the founder of the Fashion Club and also a junior usher and part of the teen ministry at his local church. He plans to pursue a degree in business marketing and hopes to start his own business. Brown is a rising freshman at Morehouse College where he will major in business administration with a concentration in marketing or accounting. He is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and the marketing group DECA. Brown maintains the A honor roll and has over 2,000 community and service hours with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.
“AT&T is pleased that students from Richland School Districts 1 and 2 and Lexington District 5 took part in this film competition dedicated to the civil rights movement,” says Ted Creech, external affairs director for AT&T in South Carolina. “Engaging students in this unique way brought to life this region’s civil rights history, taught them about the medium of film, and engaged them more deeply in their own education. We appreciate the opportunity to help young people connect with and appreciate the hard work and bravery of those who came before them, both through this project and for 25 years through the AT&T South Carolina African-American History Calendar.”
The film competition was made possible in partnership with Columbia Chapter of The Links, Inc., ColumbiaSC63, Richland School District One, Richland School District Two, Benedict College, University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, USC Media and Civil Rights Symposium, and Richland Library.
For more information, visit columbiamuseum.org/ourstorymatters/