Arts & Entertainment Neighbors

Civil Rights Documentary Has Local Ties


Pictured are some of the heroines of the Civil Rights documentary, “Standing on My Sisters Shoulders.”
From left are: Victoria Gray Adams, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Constance Iona Slaughter Harvey,
Betty Pearson, Flonzie Brown Wright, Dorie Ladner, Gloria Carter Dickerson and June Johnson.

To raise funds for The Peace Center in Langhorne, the documentary, “Standing on My Sisters Shoulders,” will be shown at the Newtown Theatre, 120 N. State Street, Newtown on Saturday, April 15 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“The film is a collection of stories from ordinary yet courageous women who took extraordinary action for justice during Civil Rights in Mississippi,” said Sherry Sadoff-Hanck, 48, of Yardley. “They are the accounts of black and white women fighting for change during a very dangerous time,”

Sadoff-Hanck is the daughter of Joan H. Sadoff, M.Ed., MSW, the producer of “Standing on My Sisters Shoulders.” Her mother is also the co-editor of the companion book with her husband and Sadoff-Hanck’s father, Robert L. Sadoff, MD, executive producer of the documentary.

The companion book is “Pieces from the Past: Voices of Heroic Women in Civil Rights.”

There will be a post-screening discussion. Sadoff-Hanck will tell the story of how her folks got on the path to making documentaries. This is their second film. The first was called, “Philadelphia, Mississippi: Untold Stories,” which was also about Civil Rights.

Sadoff-Hanck opens up the floor for questions, but mostly for attendees to hear other people’s stories. “Most people have an account of witnessing or experiencing racism and injustice as well as acts of courage and direct action,” she said. “The conversations tend to take on a life of their own. I am not there to teach or preach, rather to facilitate and engage in productive storytelling. The audience takes center stage after the film.”

The film has been shown and discussed hundreds of times to schools, libraries, religious groups

“During a neighborhood get-together to write post cards to our local and national representatives, we were discussing ways to make a difference,” she said. “I told the group about my parents’ film. My friend, and force of nature, Jennifer Paparsenos, was immediately inspired. She explored the possibility of renting the Newtown Theatre for a fundraiser, and chose The Peace Center to be the beneficiary. We will be co-hosting the event.”

Sandoff-Hanck has seen the film dozens of times. She said the women in the film touch a deep place in her heart. “Their struggles and courage give me the strength to rise and speak up for the most vulnerable among us,” she said. “I have fallen in love with each of these women over and over again. I am haunted by their daring natures and peaceful ferocity.”

Many of the women have died since the film was released, but their stories were captured for future generations to be informed and inspired.

Sadoff-Hanck is hopeful that young and old will go to the Newtown Theatre to view the documentary. 

“It’s important for young people to see this film to understand why we have certain freedoms today,” she said. “Many African American children who saw this film did not know their own history. People died for the right to vote, for the right to equal education and representation.”

“It’s important to see models of real people standing up to be counted and raising their voices to be heard in peaceful, yet forceful and courageous ways,” Sadoff-Hanck said. “When we see, others do what seems unsurmountable, we can gather the strength to do the same.”

Copies of the companion book, “Pieces from the Past: Voices of Heroic Women in Civil Rights,” will be sold for $10. All money taken in will be donated to The Peace Center.

“Hate Has No Home Here” signs will also be available for purchase.

Donations will be accepted.

For more information, visit http://sisters-shoulders.org.

Editor’s Note: Petra Chesner Schlatter is a representative of The Peace Center. 


About the author

Petra Chesner Schlatter

Petra Chesner Schlatter