Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change

Thu, 02/05/2009 - 10:00pm
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Nuns in the Selma, Alabama, voting rights march on March 10, 1965.

AP/Wide World Photos

Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change, airing Thursday, February 5 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1), is a documentary that investigates the role Catholic nuns played in Alabama's 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches.

The one-hour feature documents how six nuns from the Midwest joined the voting marches. It was the first time that vowed Catholic women had made so public a political statement. Also featured are the Sisters of St. Joseph, a group of nuns from Rochester, New York, who had been part of the Selma community since the 1930s. These dedicated women ran local missions for Selma's African-American community, provided board for visiting protestors, and at Selma's Good Samaritan Hospital treated marchers who had clashed with state troopers.

Many of the nuns who risked their personal safety during voting rights marches of 1965 are now retired or serving elsewhere in the country. Sisters of Selma director/producer Jayasri Majumdar Hart reunited the sisters and showed them unused news footage from 1965 that had been stored in American and Canadian television network archives. The comments the sisters made while watching themselves on film serve as a large part of Sisters of Selma's narrative.

From the Sisters of St. Joseph in Rochester, the documentary features Sisters Mary Paul Geck, Barbara Lum, Josepha Twomey, Marie Albert Alderman, and the late Mary Weaver.

Get a complete schedule of Black History Month programming from WXXI.

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