South Carolina ETV

Southern Lens is a showcase for independent film from and about the South, culled from film festivals and presented by South Carolina ETV. By turns warm, humorous, compelling, and heart-breaking, each film presents a place and time in Southern culture as seen through the eyes of one filmmaker.

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Southern Lens

Robert Smalls: A Patriot’s Journey from Slavery to Capitol Hill

This powerful documentary, narrated by actor Sean Patrick Thomas, tells the story of Smalls’ stalwart rise from slavery to Civil War hero to his distinguished service as a five-term U.S. Congressman.
Smalls, a man of courage, conviction and moral conscience, gained fame for piloting a Confederate ship past rebel forces, and for being among the first African-Americans to be elected to the United States Congress in 1875. His fearless determination to hold a country to its ideals of equality and justice earned him the distinction as one of the most significant African-American politicians in South Carolina history. The documentary further underscores Smalls’ greatness through interviews with prominent politicians, historians, and scholars including:

Dr. Lawrence Rowland, Historian, USC-Beaufort
Dr. Andrew Billingsley, Professor, Sociology & The Institute for Families and Society, USC-Columbia
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Michigan
Dr. Carol Swain, Professor, Political Science and Law, Vanderbilt University

"The greatest contributions that African-Americans made during that era is that they really did push America to live up to the ideas of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence...they became the conscience of the nation in many ways," says Swain.

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