Lamar TV will premiere a documentary on Charlton-Pollard

The many stories of different communities make up the complex history of the town of Beaumont. Some of these stories are taught in classrooms every year while others have faded over time.

However, Lamar University Television Productions seeks to ensure that the history of one of Beaumont’s oldest black neighborhoods is not forgotten.

The half-hour documentary, “They’ll Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story,” premieres at 6 p.m. Friday at the Jefferson Theater.

“It’s the story of a neighborhood that developed naturally because it was where people originally lived near their jobs,” said Judith Linsley, local historian at the History Center. and culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast. “It thrived despite or because of segregation during the Jim Crow era. They thrived because they were dependent on themselves. They looked to themselves for growth, prosperity and security. “

The production team – led by director, writer and producer Gordon Williams and editor, producer and cinematographer Jonathan Tippett – spoke to former residents of the neighborhood as well as Linsley to tell the story from the founding of the pre-Boomtown neighborhood in the late 19th century to the modern era.

“It’s a story of resilience,” said Williams, who is also head of studio operations for LUTV. “This is the story of a group of people who used education to improve themselves and from there a great thing happened. They were able to create businesses and income and money that stayed in the community. A group of people was created who have been leaders in many different aspects and many different areas here in Beaumont, across the state, across the community.”

The documentary has been in the works since December 2020 and production will begin the following spring. The production team included six Lamar students, a mix of media and film production majors.

“We were approached (by the) Department of Communications (and Media),” Williams said. “With funding from ExxonMobil, it all came together. We were creating an environment for students to get hands-on experience and receive funding for it.”

While the crew was mostly made up of students, Williams said they were considered professionals.

“To see them, as professionals, connect with the people they interview and connect and understand the story they share was very powerful,” he said.

Linsley, who helped the production team research the documentary, said the Charlton-Pollard story is important for Beaumont to know because it hasn’t been widely told before.

“Any time people thrive against the odds, it’s a really good story and it shows you what a community can do when they work together,” she said. “And that’s very important, especially with African-American neighborhoods, because they had a lot of hurdles to overcome.”

Linsley said she hopes the documentary will help revitalize the Charlton-Pollard neighborhood, located just south of Beaumont Harbour, and encourage more research in other areas of Beaumont.

“A search like this in an African-American neighborhood or a group of people or a place that hasn’t been written about a lot, sometimes it’s a challenge to write about everyday people,” he said. she stated. “Our history tends to be about rulers, armies, economic movements and that sort of thing.”

The experience makes a great addition to the resumes of the students who worked on the documentary, but Williams said he thinks this particular project enriched their lives as well.

“They were able to connect with that story,” he said. “Sometimes some students were also moved by hearing the stories about people’s love for this neighborhood, so I feel like it enriched them on many levels.”

Williams said the story of the Charlton-Pollard neighborhood is a universal story that can touch many people.

“I hope they see the community of Charlton-Pollard,” he said. “It’s a story where you’re from. It connected with different people that we showed it to, people who aren’t related to the neighborhood watched it and got emotional because, again , in the personal history of these people, they are connected to their personal history.”

Knowing the history is important, Williams said, and he became more intrigued by the city’s past while working on this project.

“The more I talk to people, especially when you can have a deeper conversation and people start to open up and share memories of the past, I hope this project inspires the cast and crew who worked on it. to become storytellers,” he said. “Maybe one day be inspired to tell a story about their origin. I feel like using creativity on this platform is powerful.”

At the premiere, there will be a booklet available by Linsley with more information and research on the Charlton-Pollard neighborhood and the black community of Beaumont.

“I walked in with passion and emotion about how important this neighborhood was and how much I loved it for what they had accomplished,” Linsley said. “It was just a joy to put together and write, although sometimes I couldn’t find all the information I wanted so easily.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children. The Jefferson Theater is located at 345 Fannin St. in Beaumont.

“To have something for the community and the students to have an experience – I wanted it for them because I hope it’s inspiring, it’s motivational,” Williams said. “I hope the people who worked on the cast and crew of this project realize that they were part of something and they have talent and I hope it inspires them to tell more stories. stories, to be more creative, to pursue their careers.”

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