Anthony “Amp” Elmore, cultural curator of everything African in Memphis, says Memphis’ Bicentennial celebration should be a time for reflecting on the role of African Americans in building the city to its present stature.
“I think this would be the perfect time to begin a conversation about our role in Memphis history and what really happened with great figures such as Robert R. Church, Julia B. Hooks and J.B. Martin,” said Elmore. “Some things we do know about, but there are so many other events that are not common knowledge. I set out to change all that with my new movie, ‘200 Years of Black Memphis History.’”
The movie is set for a private-showing, one-day-only release on Wednesday, May 22, 7 p.m. at the Malco Majestic Theatre, 7051 Malco Crossing.
The independent film chronicles events directly following the Civil War in the Reconstruction Era. The film also reaches back beyond Reconstruction to major events – good, unsavory and shameful – that took place in Memphis.
“It’s important to understand our real history so we can talk about it,” he said.
“The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was added because of the Memphis Massacre of 1865. Memphis was the first city to be captured by the Union Army. A full regiment of black, Union soldiers were massacred at Fort Pillow.
“But also, many of us don’t know that many fled Memphis. Only blacks and Irish people were left. There was great resentment for the newly freed slaves. During the Memphis Massacre of 1866, houses and schools were burned to the ground; black churches, too,” said Elmore.
At the same time that the movie will be showing, Elmore is also releasing the film to Youtube. There will be 60-second snippets on various historical events that will also be playing on Youtube.
“I wrote, produced and directed the entire project, and I am asking Memphis to support this effort by going to see the movie at its public showing,” Elmore said. “And for those who can’t make it, I would like to see people hosting watch parties that night, or any evening following May 22. We want this film to go viral.
“We expect viewers to be live-tweeting on Twitter and expressing their reactions in real time. All of these will go a long way in supporting the film and helping millions of others learn the real history of black Memphis.”
Elmore calls millionaire Robert R. Church Sr. the “most important black man in Memphis history.” Julia B. Hooks, “The Angel of Beale Street,” is also highlighted. Other notables featured are anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells and Dr. J.B. Martin, former president of the Negro American (baseball) League and the co-owner of the Memphis Red Sox, one of the few teams in the Negro Leagues that played in its stadium.
(For more information, call 901-758-2484.)