It began with a conversation my husband, Ted, had with City Commissioner Robert Stuart.
It was an ordinary day. Later that night he did a little research into the idea. The spark ignited a year long research project Ted eagerly worked on. The more he learned, the more he realized how special the story is; it needed to be told. So he joined with Strong Films, the makers of The Thank You Project (Yes! Remember that one?!? It was pretty special too!) to make what originally was going to be a 16 minute short film. It quickly became clear there was much more to the story.
Throughout the 2+ years of filming it evolved into a feature length film: Long Time Coming - which tells the compelling story of the first integrated Little League Baseball game in the South. The game was played a month before Rosa Parks and the famous bus boycotts. This story is nothing short of heroic. I’m grateful Ted and the Strong Film’s team was able to unearth it from history to share it with the world in hope to bring healing and reconciliation to the strains of today.
“In 1955, when racial segregation defined the South, two groups of twelve-year-old boys stepped onto a baseball field in a non-violent act of cultural defiance that would change the course of history and challenge their own perceptions sixty years later. Long Time Coming features Major League Baseball and Civil Rights icons Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken Jr., Gary Sheffield, Davey Johnson and Ambassador Andrew Young who shed light on the past, the present, the game and our common ground.” (longtimecoming.film)
The men who played the game are in their 70’s now. We brought them all together this week for the film’s premiere. Tuesday was a special city event in their honor. As the Jones High School band played, the mayor gave each of the players of this historical barrier breaking game the keys to our city. This was a stark contrast for the Pensacola team who were met with skepticism when they first came to our town in 1955.
I’m incredibly proud of my husband and honored to be by his side throughout the 3 years he’s worked on this project and now as we begin sharing it with a wider audience. The film made it’s world premiere at the Florida Film Festival with two swiftly selling out screenings and jubilant audience responses. Our friend John Arndt, who I’ve worked with closely on all of my records, did the score for this film - it’s beautiful and moving. We are eager to share it with you!
We see the film as the beginning of a conversation. Ted and his team are working on study guides to further aid discussion after the film. We’ll keep you posted as more screening opportunities become available. For now, here’s the trailer:
Never underestimate the power an ordinary day can hold. You never know what spark of hope can be ignited by a simple conversation. Lean in and press on. Keep listening. Keep loving.