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Documentary’s roots go back to Kaukauna student exchange program

This is how it all began…

One Sunday in early 2016 I was sorting through boxes in the garage. I found a box marked “high school stuff.”

It held things that only I would consider treasures. It also held a copy of my high school newspaper, The King’s Page. It had this headline: “King is host to Kaukauna.” It was one of only a couple issues of the The King’s Page that I kept.

I worked on paper for a while when I was in high school, so I guess I saved it as much for my little story, as the headline story about the exchange. But I loved learning about history and something told me to save this newspaper. Something told me that this will be history … When I looked at the date, I realized this happened 50 years ago!

Joanne Williams

I’ve been a journalist most of my adult life, so I know a good story when I see one. Black kids living with White kids. White kids living with Black families in 1966! Big city kids in a small town …  small-town White kids in Black neighborhoods.

I saved that edition of my high school newspaper for 50 years and I said to myself, this is a good story and I’m going to tell it.

It has taken almost seven years of research, production and post- production to get this film made and I know now, that it was all worth it!  Audiences have loved the stories of high school students in 1966 and the same students 50 years later. They loved the re-staging of the play by a new generation of high school students and they are “getting” the message that we can only learn to understand each other one-on-one.

“The Exchange In White America: Kaukauna & King 50 Years Later” is a story of empathy, optimism and hope and I am thrilled to bring it back to Northeast Wisconsin where it all began.

Screenings, discussions and educational displays will take place Feb. 6-11 in Kaukauna, Appleton, Oshkosh, and Green Bay. All are free and open to the public. For a full list of dates and locations, click here.

We’re grateful to the partners and sponsors who helped make this tour possible including TDS Telecommunications, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Bank of Kaukauna, Kaukauna School District, Kaukauna Public Library, African Heritage Inc., UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh, Lawrence University, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and the History Museum at the Castle.

We’re featuring a series of articles from local authors celebrating our diversity in the Fox Valley.

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