It’s safe to assume that today, everyone’s familiar with the civil rights movement and the important role that Martin Luther King, Jr. played. Some may even have heard of other leaders, some more well known than others, who fought for and won their freedom but few ever speak of the music that accompanied the revolution though at nearly every turn, it was present. It was there in the background of the sit-ins and sometimes at the forefront of marches; songs and hymns, some new some traditional but all speaking to the moment and the want (need) for action. Documentary filmmakers Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman saw an opportunity to revive the music and so Soundtrack for a Revolution was born.
When I saw The Order of Myths earlier this year, I was surprised to find that such a public display of race division was still alive and accepted in the US. It’s not to say that I live in an ideal world where racism doesn’t exist but it’s usually a topic that hides behind closed doors, which people discuss in hushed whispers and (mostly) deny in public.
Margaret Brown’s documentary about Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama was an eye opener. A celebration that predates the much more popular one in New Orleans’, things in Mobile are done a little differently with not one but two Mardi Gras parades and celebrations: one for the whites and one for African Americans. Though the individuals live, work and play together when it comes to celebrating Fat Tuesday, celebrations are segregated. There are two parades, two dances and two sets of Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras.
Brown’s documentary is a fascinating watch and though she is given access to the various groups involved in with the floats and organizing of events on both sides, no one really has an answer to why the celebration is still separate. The common answer is always “tradition” or “that’s how it’s always been done” but it makes you wonder why few people ask “When is enough enough? When do you fore go tradition?” And though Brown attempts to get some answers, she leaves the film open ended and rarely does racism rear its head although it’s always in the back of the mind and in full display on screen.