John Waller: Striving for Equality directed by David M Talley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Last week, I shared a list of movies and documentaries that I’ve been watching over the month June. Most of which I really enjoyed, and all of which I learned a lot. I want to continue this education into a history of my own country that I didn’t learn in school by watching more available documentaries on Amazon Prime, specifically, but hopefully including other platforms as well.
So, the latest documentary I watched was John Waller: Striving for Equality on Amazon Prime. This is a PBS documentary from 2010. I’ve been trying to find family-friendly documentaries. All of the ones I mentioned last week include nudity and photographs and accounts of lynchings as well as profanity. This particular film was a lot more family friendly. There were some drawings of lynchings that were going on, but it was not nearly as explicit as other documentaries.
However, this film is quite dry. It recounts the life of John Waller with a mix of interviews with various history college professors. I felt the dryness of this film took away from the absolutely fascinating life of John Waller.
He was born to house slaves in Missouri who escaped just a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation. His father purchased some land to farm in Iowa and John learned how to read and write from a neighboring white farmer who tutored him. He valued education and played many roles throughout his life, including journalist, lawyer, diplomat, and soldier.
He also had his setbacks. He wasn’t able to go to college because his family needed him on the farm. He faced racism and discrimination throughout his life but continued to fight for equality and justice. He tried to create a place in Madagascar that would give Black people opportunities to grow financially, but was imprisoned by the French, only later to be released on the request of the American president, though he did lose the land in Madagascar in the process. He is an excellent role model of perseverance, and I hope that there will be more films in the future about his fascinating life. It is still an excellent story of a man who faced adversity and yet seemed to do the next right thing in his life. Good information, dry presentation.