Community Productions

2002: Still In The Journey: African-American Women In Champaign County


This program profiles 13 African-American women: Imani Bazzell, Erma Bridgewater, Mary Clark, Miriam Scantelbury, Maudie Edwards, Lucy Gray, LaShundra Hambrick, Doris Hoskins, Hattie Paulk, Phyllis Clark, Dorothy Vickers-Shelley, Margot Williams and Crystal Womble.

The students at Uni High who worked on this documentary identified seven key areas for the women to discuss: personal fulfillment, jobs, community involvement, racism/education, religion, childhood and civil rights.

Their stories are interwoven with music from the Canaan Missionary Baptist Choir of Urbana.The women talk about overcoming racism and about the contributions they’ve made to their communities. Erma Bridgewater, for instance, describes how the discrimination she experienced threatened to rob her of her sense of self until the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King helped her see herself in a different light. She found freedom when she stopped straightening her hair, and when she learned to swim as an adult. In high school, she couldn’t learn to swim because she wasn’t allowed in the whites-only pool.  

Student producers for the series, part of an oral history project in Barbara Wysocki’s ancient history class, were Emily Bruce, Kate Peisker, and Kinzie Cornell. Angelina Liang, Ellen Rockett and Hannah Snyder served as production assistants. Colette DeJong is narrator.

“The students were also studying the Civil Rights movement in English class, and they were able to share the stories these African-American women told them,” said Wysocki. “So many of them had as young women experienced an array of prejudice, racism and sexism, and yet overcome obstacles.”

Some of the stories aired on WILL-AM in February as part of Black History Month programming.