Background

The project was initiated in summer 2008 by Robin Fryday, a Bay Area photographer. The potential nomination of Barack Obama as the first African American president awakened a strong impulse to explore the impact of unfolding events on the aging Civil Rights activists in the South. A research trip to Alabama confirmed her belief that the stories of those who fought for the right to vote in the 1960s needed to be captured and preserved in the context of unfolding events. She knew that African Americans who lived through the tumultuous era in the South would have stories to tell that would not be replicated anywhere else in the country. The idea for a documentary film was born.

While Robin had never spent much time in the South, she found herself making important connections with contacts in Birmingham and Selma who would help guide her quest to uncover potential characters to film. Fortuitously she was guided to the barbershop of James Armstrong and immediately assessed that he would be a strong central protagonist. She returned to the Bay Area in search of a potential partner to join her on the project and help to translate her inspiration into film. She was introduced to veteran documentary producer/director Gail Dolgin who recognized the potential for a strong and important program and joined forces with Robin.

Production had to begin almost immediately in order to capture the days leading up to the Election and the Election itself. They agreed that the film would give voice to African Americans who had participated in the struggle and feature Mr. James Armstrong and his barbershop as key to the unfolding events. Mr. Armstrong enthusiastically agreed to participate. We determined that our approach would be intimate and required a trusting relationship with our key protagonists. Personal story telling was key to our design.

Gail and Robin are sharing producer/director roles but defined by the different levels of filmmaking experience each brings to the project. Robin took the leadership in establishing and maintaining connections in Birmingham and Selma. Gail was the primary interviewer and director on location and in the edit room. Both bring different skills but a shared vision.