Film tells story of civil rights activist

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, September 5, 2017

By John Maruskin

This coming Saturday, September 9, at 8 p.m. the Library’s Saturday Night at the Movies film series presents a powerful and timely documentary about African American Civil Right activist, Alice Tregay. The film is entitled “Alice’s Ordinary People.”

The film was made by Chicago documentary cinematographer, Craig Dudnick. Mr Dudnick first met Alice Tregay when she contributed photographs of her brother, former Fire Chief Sanders Hicks, to his documentary history of Evanston, Illinois. At that time Mr. Dudnick had no idea of Alice Tregay’s status as a heroine of the Civil Rights Movement.

Email newsletter signup

He soon learned that Alice Tregay’s life story was like a history of the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960’s she fought the “Willis Wagons,” second class structures ostensibly built to relieve overcrowding in Chicago schools serving African American students, but in fact, a way to perpetuate segregation.

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Chicago. Alice and her husband James Tregay, marched with him, often at great personal risk. It was at this time that Dr. King joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the Reverend James Bevel to form Operation Breadbasket.

Operation Breadbasket fought racism on many fronts, but its main task was jobs for African Americans, particularly in businesses profiting in the African American community. Under the leadership of Reverend Jackson Alice and her “ordinary people” spent months picketing those local businesses and effected real change.

It was through her Political Education classes, that Alice had her most significant impact. Over a four-year period, thousands were trained to work in independent political campaigns. This new force was integral to the re-election of Ralph Metcalf to Congress as an independent democrat, to the election of Harold Washington, as mayor of Chicago, and to educating and motivating Barack Obama, our first African American President.

There will be time for discussion after the film.

As always, the Library will close at 5 p.m. Saturday. Seating for “Alice’s Ordinary People” will begin at 7:30 p.m. through the Library lobby. This film is free and open to the public. If you have any questions about attending please contact me at 859-744-5661, ext. 110 or email

The Library has many books about African American History and the Civil rights movement. Three of them are: “Say It Loud! Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity,” (call # 973.0496 Say), this book also contains a CD recording of the speeches included; “Civil Rights Chronicle: The African-American Struggle for Freedom,” (call # 323.1 Civi), and “Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement,” (call # F Whit).

If you need help finding materials about the Civil Rights Movement or any other subject you are interested in, always feel free to ask a librarian for help.

Other programs this week?

Tuesday, September 5, 10 a.m., Internet 1. The basics of the internet. How to use a search engine browser and do simple searches.

Wednesday, September 6, 2 PM, Kentucky Picture Show presents a 2017 film about a teenage girl who’s spent her whole life confined to home and suddenly falls for the boy next door. Rated, PG-13.

Friday, September 8, Write Local. As the patrolman said to the speeder, “What’s your story?”

Saturday, September 9, 10 AM to 4 PM, Outside the Lines Adult Coloring. Color any way you like.

Finally, the Library sends out a Hearty Thankee and Bravo! to Sue-Z Early, Brett Cheuvront, Lisa Johns, and Jake and Sue Halverstadt who worked the Library’s One Day/One Room Book Sale on Saturday, September 26 and made it a big success. As a reward, I’ve talked to Santa and he’s agreed volunteering like that keeps them all on the “Nice” list no matter what kind of shenanigans they pull the rest of the year.