A screening of the documentary “Happy Birthday Mrs. Craig” was held in L-109 Tuesday, Feb. 16 as part of Los Medanos College’s Black History Month festivities.
The documentary, made by the production company owned by singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, was filmed during the 1970s in Manzanola, Colorado where five generations of relatives gathered to celebrate Mrs. Craig’s 102nd birthday and combines American history, scenes of the festivity and interviews about her life.
“This is my third time watching this film and each time I watch it I see something different,” said ACS-10 Professor Ashley Adams.
The event began with Adams welcoming the audience and thanking them for being a part of the event. Adams holds a special and personal connection to this film as she is related to Lulu Sadler Craig, whom the film focuses on.
Mrs. Craig is notable for her contribution to the history of Nicodemus, Kansas. As one of the first African-American settlements during the Reconstruction, she wrote the unpublished manuscript of its history by interviewing some of the original settlers. To this day, the only copy of these stories is at the University of Kansas.
Adams’ ancestral history has inspired her to write her dissertation for her doctoral degree on Nicodemus.
“I feel it’s a continuation of the story Lulu had started,” said Adams. “Lulu had nothing and she created such a beautiful legacy.”
In addition to Craig’s contributions as a writer, she was a teacher for over 55 years and a good friend of George Washington Carver.
“As you watch the film today, I want you to consider your own contributions to our own future society and your own academic and professional goals in life. How will you change the world?” said Adams.
In the discussion, students in attendance were able to express how they were able to connect to Mrs. Craig and her family.
“She’s lived a really long life and when I’m old, I want to have that feeling that I did a good job and I didn’t waste my life,” said student Hailey Publico.
White notecards were placed on each seat at the event with questions the students were meant to think about and discuss after the showing of the film.
“You’ve got to love one another and understand what it means because without the love and the care for your family, you can drift apart,” said student Phyllis Walker on one of the key messages she got from the film.
Adams also emphasized the importance in learning that many of the struggles people were dealing with in the past are still relevant today.
“This is why we celebrate Black History Month,” said Adams. “So that people can be educated on the African-American experience.”