Tonight we watched a documentary about the life of W.E.B. Du Bois, the famous scholar-activist, in a cinema only a few steps from where Du Bois and his mother lived at the top of Railroad Street. The cinema was sold out—unbelievable for a documentary here—because suddenly Du Bois is hot. The carpetbaggers were there, but there were also the stalwart people who have worked for decades to give Du Bois proper acknowledgement in this hometown he loved.
I felt gratified, because it was my wanting to see the documentary that brought it to town. Back in December I went to the History Producers Congress in Rome. I thought of a documentary of Du Bois as a possible project, because of David’s work, and asked David if there was something already. He called Rachel Fletcher, who called Barbara Zheutlin who runs the film series, and who found the film and brought it to us tonight.
It was a good film, too, and helped me understand the complexities of Du Bois’s life choices. I was fascinated to see clips of his meeting Mao and speaking in China, and I don’t think Du Bois will be at the top of my film projects list, though it would be interesting to try something different. Some day. In the meantime, there are a couple of books on the African American community to bring out, and a website to set up.
We had another small town moment, going to Castle Street Café because Pearl’s was closed. The lovely waitress there remembered exactly what both of us drink, though we haven’t been there in a year or more.