Local film chronicles 'Mighty
by C. A. Gilman
A rapt audience previewed the screening of "Mighty Times:
The Legacy of Rosa Parks" at the Ojai Playhouse Monday.
Ojai filmmakers Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston produced and
directed the film, which is being distributed to more than 150,000
schools nationwide. "Mighty Times" is a rousing blend
of music, history and dramatic filmmaking.
The film portrays how Parks, a quiet black seamstress living
in Montgomery, Ala., refused give up her seat on a bus when bullied
by the driver. She had to be removed by the sheriff.
At that time blacks were separated from whites in buses, restaurants,
sidewalks, bathrooms, movie houses, entrances to buildings, etc.
What may not be as well known is that Rosa Parks was sitting
in the section reserved for "Coloreds," not whites.
When a white man needed a seat, the bus driver vacated four seats
occupied by black men in the "Coloreds" section so
that the white passenger might sit by himself. Parks didn't budge.
She had had enough.
When the sheriff took Parks off that bus, the black citizens
of Montgomery boycotted the buses and walked to their jobs for
more than a year. Mary Ann "Tweety" Woodard of Camarillo
who was in the audience on Monday said, "I grew up in Montgomery
when Rosa Parks was arrested. I was just a child then. They didn't
just boycott the buses, they boycotted everything: department
stores, movie theaters, restaurants, etc." Woodard is part
of the Fresh Anointing Gospel Singers, which will be singing
at the fund-raising screening on Sept. 15.
"Rosa Parks sparked the Second American Revolution,"
says producer Hudson. "Literally two days after her arrest,
Martin Luther King made his very first speech for civil rights.
By Monday morning, there were 50,000 people committed to nonviolent
protest. It all happened at once." Director Houston added,
"It's a truly amazing story, and we worked hard to dramatize
it on the screen."
Hudson said, "This film represents a community involvement.
We needed hundreds of extras, photos from the period, home movies
and singers. People came out of Santa Rosa and Camarillo to help.
Vince McGowan of Prime Time Casting in Oxnard was instrumental
in finding talent. We were based out of the parking lot behind
Regal's Liquors. Everything - bathrooms, food, dressing rooms,
vintage cars were there."
When asked where they got the footage, Houston said, "Right
here in Ojai and Santa Paula." Using vintage film stock
and cameras, the filmmakers created footage that was virtually
indistinguishable from the archival record.
Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center,
is distributing the film.
The fund-raising screening will be held Friday, Sept. 14 at 7
p.m. in Libbey Bowl. More than 3,000 invitations are being sent
throughout the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to students
and teachers. Proceeds will benefit the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation
and the Ojai Film Festival 2002. The festivities will open with
gospel choirs from two counties and wrap up with a reception
at the Offices at the Pews on North Montgomery Street after the
For more information about the Teaching Tolerance program, go
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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ANN WOODARD, of Camarillo, talks about growing up in Montgomery,
Ala., during the days of Rosa Parks-sparked boycotts.