Oscar-winning director Kevin Willmott will be part of a panel after the screening by the San Antonio African American Community Archives and Museum.
SAN ANTONIO – A multi-month San Antonio African American Community Archives and Museum (SAAACAM) effort to educate and entertain families about black stories, with links to Alamo City, continues Friday night with a screening of “The 24th,” a 2020 Hollywood drama about dozens of black soldiers who mutinied against abuse and racism in the early 1900s.
The screening is the latest in SAAACAM’s black history film series and will be followed by a panel starring writer-director Kevin Willmott, whose 2018 collaboration with Spike Lee “BlacKkKlansman” earned him a Oscar.
The black history film series was born out of the nonprofit’s desire to continue its educational efforts while prioritizing safety during the coronavirus pandemic, program director Heather Williams said. He found the perfect venue in the spacious Arneson River Theater, large enough to accommodate social distancing while also bringing families to La Villita, where SAAACAM is headquartered.
“Due to COVID, we were trying to consider different methods of getting the public aware of historical information that impacted San Antonio and the area,” Williams said. “We knew that everything had to be either virtual or in an outside setting where people could receive information in a safe environment. “
SAAACAM’s mission is to “collect, preserve, and share the cultural heritage of African Americans in the San Antonio area,” and the films the organization has curated for its Black History film series all draw different levels of influence of black history in central and southern Texas. Even “42,” chronicling Jackie Robinson’s break from Major League Baseball’s color barrier, is implicitly textured with the baseball legend’s specific impact at Alamo City, Williams says.
“The relevance there is that when the meal counters were integrated, Jackie Robinson discovered the impact that was happening here in San Antonio,” she said. “He, having the platform he had, decided to step in and say, ‘This is a story that needs to be told around the world. So that’s the bond we appreciate having.
The local bond is even stronger when it comes to the story of “Le 24”. Following the mutiny of 156 members of the All-Black 24th Infantry amid racial discrimination by the Houston Police, a trial ensued at Fort Sam Houston. More than a dozen were found convicted and subsequently hanged in San Antonio.
True to SAAACAM’s mission to uncover San Antonio’s place in African American history, Williams highlighted how these men were later buried in unmarked graves near the fort.
“These are things people don’t even know about,” she said. “It’s the biggest murder trial in history.”
The Friday evening screening starts at 8:30 p.m. and is free to the public, but SAAACAM asks visitors to reserve their seats in advance via its website.
Williams says the Black History Film Series, which will end with films in October and November, has been such a success that SAAACAM is already well into the preparations for the second round in 2022. SAAACAM expects it to do so. starts in March and has already secured Hemisfair Park as the venue for a new roster of movie screenings to continue to deepen the conversation and create new ones about black stories as they unfold in San Antonio.
“One of the things that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that we are making history in our day-to-day lives now,” said Williams. “So 50 years later, we’ve made sure to capture and document it so that those who follow our path will know that these are the things that happened.”
For more upcoming SAAACAM events, Click here.