Louis Massiah, acclaimed documentarian and community video pioneer, visited Virginia Tech a few days ago. What an inspiration. Among the works Massiah screened was a segment from Power!, one episode from the Eyes on the Prize II series. In the segment, we are told the story of Carl B. Stokes, the first black mayor of a major American city. To say this video -- produced in the 80s, about a man that broke ground in the 60s -- was timely would be an understatement. If you want insight into this year's presidential election, including the racial (and racist) strategies being employed by opponents of Barack Obama, it's a must-see. (Search for it in a local library here.)
Still, even more impressive, was hearing Massiah discuss and screen work produced by Scribe Video Center. Massiah founded Scribe in 1982, and occupies a central place in Philadelphia media-making. If you don't know about it and you're interested in community storytelling (and empowerment) through video, dig into their website. Scribe has been around for 26 years, which is a phenomenal achievement, particularly considering the fate of so many other media arts organizations (from the Film Arts Foundation to AIVF). More importantly, they've changed lives through storytelling. Great stuff.