Oct 1962 1963 July 1964 Jan-Feb 1965 Mar 1965 Aug 1965 Dec 1965
Vatican Council II starts Alabama Voting Rights Campaign starts U.S. Civil Rights Act is signed into law Black voters in Selma appear at Dallas County courthouse for registration "Bloody Sunday"
Religious leaders come  to Selma
Selma to Montgomery march
U.S. Voting Rights Act passes Vatican Council II


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Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change

a one-hour documentary by  Hartfilms and Alabama Public Television
with support from 
The Independent TV Service of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The year was 1965; the place, Selma, Alabama.   For decades, local laws had all but prevented its Black citizens from voting.  Supported by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., they decided to march to the state capital of Montgomery in order to draw attention to their plight.  On a Sunday in early spring, the peaceful protesters on their way out of Selma were beaten back by state troopers. 

The brutality of "Bloody Sunday" focused nationwide attention on African American civil rights.

A group of nuns from St. Louis were among the first to protest the violence.  At a time when church leaders were reluctant to address the treatment of Blacks in the South, these courageous women defied authority to take their message to the streets of Selma.

The sisters were welcomed by the Black residents of Selma, due in large part to the decades of bridge-building by sisters from Rochester, New York who had met their education and health care needs.  The Archbishop of Mobile-Birmingham had prohibited them from joining the marches, so they fed, housed, and cared for waves of civil rights activists from elsewhere.

This is a story of "aggiornamento," a word Pope John XXIII used to describe the "updating" of societies resistant to change--and the story of the women who took it upon themselves to become the agents of that change.

What did they change?  How were they themselves changed by the experience? Forty years later, the women reassess their roles in the Civil Rights Movement. 

DVD Available: Amazon.com

After a successful run on PBS and PBS Home Video, this documentary is looking for a permanent home and funds to license the archival footage in perpetuity. For more information, please contact sistersofselma@earthlink.net

Additional Funding
Catholic Communications Campaign,  The Louisville Institute,  Alabama Humanities Foundation

2007 Hartfilms    -   Updated 06/05/2013