The Nixon Leaders Center of Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) will screen the documentary film CF Pope: Where Champions were Grown on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 3pm in U70, 411 North Front Street, Wilmington NC as part of the Movie and a Message series. This event is free and open to the public, and will be moderated by Donterio Perkins, the Coordinator of the CFCC Nixon Leaders Center. Perkins says he decided to include the documentary in the series because “It is inspirational, and truly speaks to the resilience of the teachers and students who attended there.”
The film CF Pope: Where Champions were Grown (2022) was directed by Richard T. Newkirk, Ed.D. and Claudia Stack, Ed. M. The Pender Education Partnership, the CF Pope Alumni Association, and NC Humanities were the Executive Producers. Michael Raab produced the film, and Patrick Ogelvie did the videography and editing.
Founded in 1891 by the Middle District Missionary Baptist Association, the CF Pope School in Burgaw, NC began as a school for ministers before its mission expanded to general education. Its high school was accredited in 1924, becoming one of only two high schools for African Americans in Pender County during the segregation era. In the documentary, alumni share stories about their time at the school, the ways in which their families sacrificed to support their education, and the teachers who mentored them.
Dr. Richard T. Newkirk, co-director of the film, alumnus of CF Pope, and Vice President of the CF Pope Alumni Association says the school’s story “is told from the perspective of persons who understood that education was a privilege, not a right. Consequently, they focused on what was available and strove to make their best better in spite of the varied challenges. That’s what champions do.”
Tammie M. Parris is the Director of CFCC’s Pender County Workforce and Development. She is also the president of the Pender Education Partnership (PEP), which provided logistical support for the documentary project. Reflecting on the film, Parris says:
The documentary presents the personal connection of the alumni and their journey to become educated during segregation, desegregation, and integration. I was truly inspired and honored to be a part of the documentary and the message it delivers.
As the Director of Pender County Tourism and the Vice President of PEP, Tammy Proctor also takes pride in her involvement in the film. Parris and Proctor were instrumental in supporting the vision that the directors and the alumni had for creating the film. Proctor remarks, “The documentary shines the light on a school that made an impact in spite of segregation. It holds a lesson for us all that education is powerful.”
The film’s co-directors, Newkirk and Stack, have worked together on several documentaries and have given many presentations at conferences, universities and schools about African American education heritage. Throughout the segregation era, African American families in North Carolina and across the South paid their taxes, then had to raise funds again to obtain schools for their children. In spite of being under-resourced, the historic African American schools in our region left a legacy of excellence and influential alumni. For example, distinguished playwright and actor Samm-Art Williams and nursing pioneer Mary Mills are just two of the CF Pope school’s accomplished alumni.
Nor did the families’ drive and sacrifice for education stop at the primary or high school level. A 2007 article in The Journal of Negro Education, “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Honoring the Past, Engaging the Present, Touching the Future,” noted that “In the 25 years after the Civil War, approximately 100 institutions of higher learning were created to educate freed African Americans, primarily in the southern United States.” These historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) continue to play an important role as leaders in innovation.
Please come out on December 1, 2022 at 3pm to 411 North Front Street, Wilmington, NC to learn about the historic CF Pope school. The film screening will be followed by a discussion with the directors, and audience members will also have the chance to talk with alumni.