2020 One Woman One Vote Festival
History books often neglect the impact of grassroots activists. But women like Ann Atwater are now getting the attention they deserve. April 1, the 2020 One Woman One Vote Festival and the National Archives Foundation presented a preview screening of the feature film The Best of Enemies starring Taraji P. Henson as Ann Atwater, and Sam Rockwell as C.P. Ellis.The Best of Enemies is inspired by a book written by Osha Gray Davidson, one of the special guest speakers at the screening event. The story involves a 1971 school desegregation battle in Durham, NC. Atwater a prominent community activist, and Ellis, the leader of the local KKK, were recruited to chair a series of community dialogues to reach a decision. An unlikely friendship evolves in the process.
Congressman C.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Archivist David Ferriero both representing Durham, provided historical context in their opening remarks.In addition to Davidson (see photo below), panel speakers included Lottie Joiner (center), editor-in-chief of the NAACP Crisis Magazine, and Courtland Cox (right), SNCC veteran and chair of the SNCC Legacy Project. Davidson says it took nearly 20 years for this story to reach the screen after multiple options of his book. The conversation about women in the civil rights movement brings attention that there are many more Ann Atwaters, known and unknown, whose stories have yet to be told.
Special thanks to event partners the League of Women Voters DC and its volunteers, and the National Woman's Party. Photos for event by Colin Danville for 2020 OWOV Festival.