An author’s book with landmarks in local history has inspired another chapter, on camera.
The Friends of the Georgetown Library will show the premiere of Steve Williams’ film, “The Content of Their Character,” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Georgetown County Library main branch, 405 Cleland St. It’s based on his book “Ebony Effects: 150 Unknown Facts about Blacks in Georgetown, S.C.,” published by Waccamaw Press. This DVD comprises 15 mini-documentaries and Williams will lead a question-and-answer session afterward, just as he did for this preview feature that ensues with excerpts.
The book and film – the latter, which Williams said took 19 months to produce – is for sale in Georgetown at Waterfront Books, 815 Front St.; Aunny’s Country Kitchen, 926 Front St.; and Lamar’s Fish & Chips, 205 S. Merriman Road. Also, in The Original Hammock Shop, in Hammock Shops Village, on U.S. 17 in Pawleys Island; at Amazon.com; or by contacting Williams: email email@example.com or call 864-346-0749.
Q: How was Georgetown County Library’s main branch chosen for the honor and prestige of this premiere?
A: I recently met Bob Willey at the Unity Rally in Georgetown. ... Bob is a retired administrator from Springfield College, in Massachusetts. He read an article I wrote last January about Dr. Martin Luther King and the unique relationship he had with Glenn Olds, the courageous president of Springfield College in 1964. Bob was so impressed with the article that he shared it with the current president, and she in turn asked him to thank me.
A week later, Bob had seen my new DVD/documentary and happened to run into one of the people profiled in the video, Dorothy Taylor. ... The two of them hit it off right away. A few days later, I received an e-mail from him expressing interest in organizing the premiere of my new video. ... Bob is president of the Friends of Georgetown Library, and I, too, share an immense love for the entire staff at the Georgetown Library. So it was only fitting that we should have the premiere there. Much of the research for “Ebony Effects” was prepared in that library.
Q: Was choosing just 15 folks for the video a more daunting challenge than the first grand task of choosing and putting into your page flow the several dozen people whose lives and legacies make up your book?
A: Not at all; I’m sincerely touched by what these local heroes have done. ... It’s difficult to wrap your mind around their humanitarian causes today simply because much of the gaps they filled for us are filled by government agencies and other support groups now. But in their day, there were no such safety nets – only a strong sense of community and core values. ...
Previous generations fought hard for many of the conveniences that millennials have today at the click of their finger, and they should know it. ...
With the recent emergence of movies such as “The Help,” “Hidden Figures,” and “The Loving Story,” there’s been an upsurge of enlightening films about unassuming people who’ve overcome racial, gender and cultural barriers. ... I’ve loved to write about everyday people who overcame obstacles, because life is less about what we achieve and more about what we overcome.
Q: When coming up with these 15 pairings of each introducer and featured subject, how moving was the experience for you?
A: Dorothy Taylor, for example: She’s 98 years young with an indelible memory of events and dates. She not only vouched for the accomplishments of these champions, but she vouched for their character.
Florence Williams, who founded a hospital in the 1920s, was a close neighbor and friend of Mrs. Taylor’s. Matilda Martin, who founded a rest home for the convalescing elderly and homeless, was another close friend of Mrs. Taylor’s. ...
Willie Washington shared with me a story about injured or sick members of his community who required special treatment at hospitals in Charleston or Florence but couldn’t be transported there in an ambulance because they were black. They had to be taken there in a hearse from one of the local black mortuaries – You won’t find this history in books.
Q: Who else assisted in producing this project, for it to all come together, to match the muse in your heart?
A: Darrell Thomas: He and I had collaborated a few years ago on a play that I wrote and directed. He’s a young man, but he has an old soul. By that, I mean he’s a throwback to the Georgetonians of yesteryear. ...
One night, in summer 2015, he phoned me about an idea. ... When he came to my house, he said he wanted to make a documentary. Unbeknownst to him, I had just begun work on this documentary. To this day, I have no idea how he knew that I was doing a documentary because I never told anyone that I was working on this project. ... Without his audio, video and technical skills, this DVD never would’ve gotten off the ground.
Q: With future outreach across the Lowcountry, where else might this video play and enlighten everyone who lives or visits here? Might the video have potential for school assemblies or film festivals for greater exposure?
A: Quite a few people who’ve seen this documentary have suggested we send it to schools. It’s definitely one of my goals. Because “Ebony Effects” and “The Content of their Character” cover local history in a universal way, they have a broader appeal. The unsung heroes of Georgetown very much affected our region, our state, and indeed, our nation.
Q: Since the book was first published in 2012, have thoughts about a sequel emerged in your mind, and if so, what direction might that lead you?
A: I’ve been asked many times to write a sequel to “Ebony Effects,” and it’s on my bucket list; it’s just not in the top 10.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.