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Filmmaker's Statement

Eight years ago, I began work on The Tower Road Bus, envisioning a documentary film about understanding between Black people and white people as a result of court-ordered school integration at Crestview Elementary School, which I attended, near Washington D.C.  America’s disappointing attempts to address racial justice notwithstanding, I believed the story of integration at my school could be held up as a candle of hope in a polarized world, a realization of the aspirations invested in the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.  

However, I soon discovered the story was far more complicated than I imagined.  After interviews with the former principal of my school, Dotson Burns, Jr., who was the first African-American man to helm a majority-white school in Prince George’s County, and former students who were my friends in the elementary school years, I began to see the resentment that some still harbored at having to be part of the school integration experiment.  I quickly understood that although some feelings of progress prevailed among Black former students uprooted from their community-based schools, the busing experience had been trying.  “I felt like I was part of a science experiment,” said one interviewee.  Stories of struggle and sacrifice from the busing era of the 1970s, informed by earlier eras of profound racial bigotry, became the focus of The Tower Road Bus.

As discussions around racial equity arise in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, I hope The Tower Road Bus will bring audiences face to face with the ramifications of the ambitious yet controversial practice of school busing and our nation’s labored efforts to realize justice.

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