TONYA EASBEY, our filmmaker on creating change from behind the lens

photo (2) 2Creating Change: Our first shoot on-location in Dallas, Texas. Our team of three -Gil, Marilyn and I- covers a wide spectrum in age, race and religion, and our conversation topics vary as wide. "What do YOU think the civil rights movement of the 60s did best?" "Where did they fail?" "Where were you you when…" We walk around a cemetery north of Dallas in Denton, Texas, joined by two southern belles of Gil's generation -Marilyn's mother, Adele Bennett and friend Kathy Massey. They spot different headstones, some engraved with Confederate flags or adages. How does this sit with Gil… that one of Marilyn's great great grandfathers fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War?  Or another great great grandfather who had a tobacco plantation in Kentucky, may have had slaves, but definitely believed as a white man he was greatly superior to blacks?

How does Marilyn relate with ancestors that might just as soon despise her for her own differences?


The conversation doesn't falter, and we move from  the LGBT conference "Creating Change!" in Dallas to Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, where change really started happening. And I get to see this through the eyes of two people I so greatly admire; Reverend Gil Caldwell, one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal supporters, a civil rights foot soldier who has dedicated himself and his life to creating change and a more just world, and Marilyn Bennett, a woman who's inner strength and purpose is only surpassed by her wit and love for pie. You see, she's as southern as they come.

Camera.Speed.Action!I think how my own life has had neither of these challenges. I am a white, straight, middle-class woman born into a white, middle-class community. Most of us look alike, think alike, act alike… but what about behind the doors of our 70s rancher homes. Who is struggling with who they really are? How they really feel? Their own personal struggles of race, religion, orientation?

I can only hope that opening this conversation on film will also open these doors to private struggles, and let them flow out to the streets where they are diluted with love and acceptance. Actually, I can do more than just hope. I can march forward with these civil rights soldiers with my own tools of battle.

Camera. Speed. Action!