The City of Birmingham is giving voice to the New South in an upcoming film project titled “The South Got Something To Say” which gives an intimate look at Birmingham through the voices of its leaders, residents, young people, and policymakers as it prepares to host The 2022 World Games.
Watch the trailer here
The film, which strives to reconcile the city’s history of racial terror and triumph with a hopeful future, is produced and directed by The Southern Futures Project, a collective of policy advocates, storytellers, and organizers who work to elevate authentic voices of Black folks in the South. It is currently in production with a plan to be released in late fall.
“Now is the time to tell the story of the new South,” said Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “The narrative of our city’s past injustices and segregation have been repeated for many years. Though we honor our history, we also recognize that the identity of our city has changed. There is a new story being written, new voices emerging, and we want to show the world that Birmingham’s got something to say.”
The film began production last year with a goal to give voice to various communities and how they are navigating life in this rising progressive city. It was shot in historic neighborhoods such as Woodlawn and Belview Heights as well as barbershops, gardens, and other spaces that define Birmingham’s communities.
The project is also about the authentic and sometimes complicated relationships between and among residents and a new generation of high-caliber leaders who are propelling the city forward at light speed. It all falls at the intersection of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and the 60th commemoration of the Birmingham civil and human rights movement, which makes for an interesting gumbo of stories and opinions.
“We were presented with this outsized moment of hosting an international event. The world was watching to see if Birmingham could rise to the occasion,” said Ed Fields, Senior Advisor & Chief Strategist, City of Birmingham, and the project’s co-executive producer. “We not only rose to the occasion but are continuing to use that big moment to tell our full story, a bigger story.”
In the now the famous 1995 speech at The Source Awards, rapper Andre 3000 of Outkast uttered the words,” The South got something to say.” It represented a shift in the guard and a promise that the voices of the South were rising. Around that time a 15-year-old Randall Woodfin was learning to develop his own voice while navigating life as a young Black man in Birmingham bred on hip hop and with aspirations to lead.
Today, Woodfin serves as mayor and joins a collective of other young leaders who have taken the helm of Birmingham in government, arts, entertainment, business innovation and nonprofit. The film features those new voices: Woodfin; DeJuana Thompson, CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Rashada LeRoy, producer of The 2023 World Games opening and closing ceremonies and CEO of LRY Media; as well as other local and national leaders. Organizers hope that viewers will hear their stories and come away enlightened, and perhaps even inspired, by the message coming from this city.
“What does the South have to say?” Fields said. “Our goal is to get you to listen.”
The total cost of the project is $25,000 and the community is invited to help support. Get more information about the project at www.southgotsomething.com