Filmmakers Mary Lou and Jerome Bongiorno will present their award-winning documentary, "Revolution '67" at the Madison Public Library on Wednesday, May 11th at 7:00 pm. A discussion will follow the film. Focusing on the six-day Newark, N.J., outbreak in mid-July, "Revolution '67" reveals how the disturbances began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America's struggles over race and economic justice. Voices from across the spectrum - activists Tom Hayden and Amiri Baraka, journalist Bob Herbert, Mayor Sharpe James, and other officials, National Guardsmen and Newark citizens - recall lessons as hard-earned then as they have been easy to neglect since.
The 1960s were in full heat. The Vietnam War, campus unrest, political assassinations and a defiant counter-culture were remaking the country. For African Americans, nonviolent protest was giving way to “black power” as the traditional Civil Rights Movement was seen as failing the aspirations of poor blacks in decaying urban centers. There had been deadly “race riots” in Jersey City (1964), Harlem (1964) and Watts (1965). So when black Newark, N.J., taxi driver John Smith was stopped for a traffic violation on July 12, 1967, the rumor that he had been not only beaten, but had died, spread like a force of nature through Newark’s impoverished black neighborhoods.
As meticulously reconstructed in Revolution ’67, a documentary that was shown on public television’s P.O.V. series, the response of Newark’s black citizens to Smith’s beating and purported death was a long time in the making. And the heavy-handed response of the police and city leaders — also long in the making — turned a spontaneous protest against police actions into a full-scale revolt. After six days, 26 people lay dead, 725 people were injured, and close to 1,500 people had been arrested. Revolution ’67 marshals chilling archival footage and the vivid memories of a remarkable number of key players on the scene — citizens, community activists, police, National Guardsmen and the state’s future governor — to render an insider’s account of racial and economic division in an American city.
Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno are Newark-based, award-winning, Emmy-nominated, husband-and-wife filmmakers whose fictional, documentary, and museum art films are widely distributed. The Bongiornos have garnered critical acclaim and numerous prestigious grants, fellowships, and prizes including an Erik Barnouw OAH Award and a John O'Connor AHA Film Award for Revolution '67.
Please make reservations to attend this event by calling Carrie Thompson at the library, (973) 377-0722, Ext. 226. This is a free program.