What happens when we uncover lost stories and tell them in new ways? And how might shared experiences, between people who are different from one another, bring us closer together? In today’s very special episode we’re going to take you back to a story that happened over 50 years ago. It’s the story of an exchange of Black and White high school students in Wisconsin in 1966, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.
Black students from Rufus King High School in Milwaukee switched places with White students from Kaukauna High School during a time of heightened racial tensions in our country, and on the wave of big changes. The young people lived in each others’ homes, attended classes in each others’ schools and took what they learned to the stage, performing Martin Duberman’s groundbreaking play called “In White America” in both cities.
Today a new generation of high school students are re-living that era in a project called, “The Exchange In White America: Kaukauna & King 50 Years Later.” It’s all thanks to journalist and filmmaker Joanne Williams, who had been a student at Rufus King when the exchange took place. She wondered about what happened to the students in the exchange and what their lives were like now and was inspired to embark on a 6-year journey to create a documentary film, which involved a revival of the play 50 years later by high school students in Milwaukee and Kaukauna.
Two weeks ago during Black History Month, over 1,000 people in the Fox Valley area had the chance to view the film and participate in conversations with the filmmaker Joanne as part a Northeast WI premiere tour.
The Loop: Documentary’s Roots Go Back To Kaukauna Student Exchange Program – by Joanne Williams
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