Historical documentary premieres Thursday at Orringer

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 New Bern Sun Journal, June 18, 2011 11:30 PM 

Students in Craven Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society and members of the Humanities 160 class are inviting the public to the premiere of their documentary film titled “Voices of New Bern.”

The screening is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Orringer Auditorium on the New Bern campus. The event will include the screening of a short film on the Battle of New Bern, as well as a question-and-answer session with the students.

The students spent nearly a year conducting interviews for “Voices of New Bern,” which has a running time of approximately 40 minutes.

The student-produced documentary film ‘Voices of New Bern' will be shown Thursday at 7 p.m. at Orringer Auditorium on Craven Community College's New Bern campus.

The film focuses on an often-overlooked period in the city’s history: the time between the Battle of New Bern in March 1862 to the Great Fire of 1922.

“People who attend the premiere are going to get to see how exciting New Bern’s history was,” said Phi Theta Kappa chapter President Jimmy Fulcher Jr., who directed the documentary. “That was an extremely fascinating time in New Bern’s existence.”

Highlights of the documentary include:

n The story of two Civil War era spies from New Bern – Confederate spy Emeline Piggott and former slave Abraham Galloway, who spied for the Union.

n The push for Women’s Suffrage by New Bern residents.

n The important role that religious institutions and groups, including the AME Zion Church and New Bern’s Jewish community, played in the city’s past.

n The Great Fire of 1922 and the forces that shaped the city as it exists today.

The documentary mixes the recollections of longtime New Bern residents such as Nelson McDaniel, Mary Peterkin, Steve Shaffer and others with the scholarly research of Dr. David Cecelski and Dr. Glenda Gilmore.

It also features an extended interview with the late Blanche Sparrow Rivers, who died in 2010 at age 105. The film is dedicated to her memory.

The idea for a documentary developed after members of Phi Theta Kappa researched and wrote a series of well-received historical “minutes” to help commemorate New Bern’s 300th anniversary in 2010.

The informative minutes were broadcast on Public Radio East, and the material in them was used to develop posters and placards that highlighted significant figures and events in the city’s history.

Assisting the students with the documentary were faculty members and staffers from the college, as well as a number of area residents, said Kate Amerson, who serves as advisor to Craven’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter.

All of the music in the documentary was written by Helen Sims Smaw of New Bern.

The project received funding from the Richard Chapman Cleve Fund of the N.C. Community Foundation, as well as a Walmart Community Grant.

Admission to the June 23 premiere is free. For more information, please contact Amerson at amersonk@cravencc.edu or 252-638-7306.

Sandy Wall is the public information officer at Craven Community College. He can be reached at walls@cravencc.edu

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