Events at the Libraries
A Giant Step: 1960 Little Rock Film|
11/13/2007, Second Presbyterian Church
The special collections department of the University of Arkansas hosted a screening of the 1960 film on Little Rock titled "A Giant Step" at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. The history of the film began when the Greater Little Rock Council of Garden Clubs decided to take advantage of a program sponsored by the Sears-Roebuck Foundation of Atlanta. The Foundation's Home and Neighborhood Development Sponsors offered $500 for local clubs to encourage citizen participation in community beautification. President Nell Ritchie and vice-president Billye Stockton of the Council of Garden Clubs jumped at the chance to expand their programs designed to create a better perception of Little Rock. In 1960 Little Rock was trying to recuperate from the negative publicity associated with the 1957 Central High School Integration Crisis.
Stockton, who was named the chairman of the local HANDS, was encouraged by W.C. Greenway, director of the national HANDS, to do "something more creative" than "little planting projects." Stockton believed that educating the citizens of Little Rock about the need for community improvement was a necessary first step. She was inspired to create a short documentary film for that purpose while on a bus tour of downtown Little Rock sponsored by the city director for Urban Progress. She collaborated with Irving Skipper of Videotone Inc., a local movie producer; Jason Rouby, the director of Urban Progress for the city of Little Rock; and John Pounders, program director for Channel 11, the CBS affiliate in Little Rock, to create the film.
To create interest in and support for the project, Stockton appointed chairmen to head up contests throughout the city - in schools, churches, businesses and homes - including beautification contests, litter-bug programs, and a "Clean-up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up" campaign in conjunction with the City Beautiful Commission. She then scripted a 20-minute film featuring the results of these and other programs focusing on community development and urban progress.
The film was shown not only in Little Rock, but in other areas of the country as well, including a regional garden club meeting in New Orleans that was attended by James Worthy, president of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation, who praised the film.
Useful in 1960 as a positive film to promote a city with a stained national character due to the 1957 Central High Integration Crisis, Stockton's film "Take a Giant Step" is a valuable peek into the post-crisis Little Rock as it boldly pushed forward, looking to create a better future for its citizens.