Last month, I wrote about “Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story,” a documentary to be aired on Friday, February 9th (9PM EST) on PBS covering the struggle for civil rights in Yonkers, New York. At the time I received E-Mails requesting a reminder post when the airtime for this documentary neared. It happens the director and producer of this documentary, Bill Kavanagh, is a good friend as well as a blogger and he agreed to a podcast interview. Since the PBS broadcast is local to the New York metropolitan area, the documentary’s website (click here) will provide a link to purchase a DVD of this film in a few days.
Without rehashing my previous post, here is a brief synopsis. In 1985, the US vs. Yonkers ruling challenged the institutionalized housing and educational discrimination of an entire city. The linkage of housing discrimination with a segregated school system was an historical watershed. Through the courts a ruling codified a remedy for both.
Critics believed the ruling illustrated an out of control judiciary while supporters of the decision hoped social justice was on the way. Instead, the fallout from the decision exposed racial fault lines in Yonkers, New York as the white community resented any effort to expand access to better, more integrated housing for minorities. Sadly, the city of Yonkers found being in contempt of court preferable to addressing their legacy of racism.
Kavanagh brings impressive credentials as a filmmaker to this documentary. In 2001, he was the field producer for Enemies of War, a PBS documentary covering the civil war in El Salvador. Kavanagh went to El Salvador and interviewed rebel commanders, Jesuit priests, officials from the Salvadoran and US governments, human rights workers and ordinary Salvadoran citizens. He covered the first elections after the ceasefire and interviewed the late Congressman Joe Moakley and his aide, Jim McGovern, who broke the wall of silence around the killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter by the Salvadoran military in 1989. Enemies of War was shown nationally on PBS.
With Brick By Brick, Kavanagh and his production team illustrate how a ghetto was created through public policies. It is the local people themselves on both sides who tell the story in Kavanagh's film. Truthfully, the people of Yonkers are describing a familiar tale for many American communities. I was honored to interview Kavanagh about his important documentary and the civil rights struggle in Yonkers. Please refer to the media player below.
This interview can also be accessed for free via the Itunes store by searching for "Intrepid Liberal Journal."