G. Mark LaFrancis: Executive Director, Director, Producer
Darrell White: Producer, Narrator, Historian
Robert Morgan: Producer, Historian
Title of Film: “The Parchman Ordeal: The Untold Story”
Length of Film: 57 Minutes
Genre: Inspirational Documentary
What is this film about?
This film chronicles the unlawful imprisonment of more than 150 young African-American men and women in Natchez, Mississippi. In October 1965, they planned to march for voting rights and an end to segregation. Authorities arrested them and took them to the state penitentiary where they were abused and humiliated.
What inspired you to make this film?
After a half-century of silence about their mistreatment, the survivors of the incarceration at the state penitentiary in Parchman agreed to tell their stories. In their 60s and 70s now, most were teens at the time of their unlawful arrest. So gripping were the testimonies, there was little doubt that a film would finally give the survivors the recognition they were not accorded after returning from the prison. Also, the film seeks to reinforce the sacrifice they made to fight for rights, especially voting rights, so long ago. This film was made possible in part with a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council.
What is your connection to Mississippi?
All three producers live in Natchez, Mississippi. Darrell White is director of heritage tourism for the City of Natchez and curator for the Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture. G. Mark LaFrancis is a retired educator, an author and teacher of film and photography. Robert Morgan is a retired Air Force sergeant, and a deacon at Beulah Baptist Church, the church from which the Parchman survivors began their march.
Anything else to add?
Yes, the film includes gripping interviews with some of the survivors, along with interviews with former Mississippi governor William F. Winter, Mississippi journalist legend Bill Minor, Civil Rights activist Charles Evers, and Pulitzer-prize finalist journalist and author Stanley Nelson. Also included in the film are rare clips from the film “Black Natchez.” An original score “Determined to Overcome” was produced by musician, teacher and composer Alvin Shelby of Natchez.