Urbana High School Student Filmmakers Present Video on
History and Future of Douglass Park Drum Corps
Six young African-American male filmmakers from Urbana High
School explained their project on radio talk shows on four
different stations. They premiered their documentary to an
appreciative audience at Boardman’s Art Theatre. And their
documentary, And the Beat Goes On: The Spirit in the Legacy
of the Douglass Center Drum Corps, aired on WILL-TV on Dec.
5, 2006. The students, participants in WILL’s Youth Media
Workshop, created the video about the history of the Douglass
Center Drum Corps and about efforts to revive the corps.
The comments of three student producers, Nick Green, Brian Mitchell and Jay
Walker, are included. They talk about making the video about the
history and future of the drum corps. The video
tells the story of the drum corps during its heyday in the late
1960s and asks the question, “Who will carry on the tradition
and provide this important social outlet for young black men and
Mitchell said the students hope the video will help efforts to
revive the drum corps. “It’s about small town living. It’s about
the history of drumming itself, the egos and pride of the
drummers, the personalities of the drummers and the future of
drumming,” Mitchell said.
The 25-minute video includes recollections of former drum corps
leaders Jesse Ratliffe and Bud Johnson, along with former drum
corps member Terry Townsend and drill team member Linda
Turnbull. The video looks at recent efforts by Ratliffe and
17-year-old Lee Duncan to revive the drum corps, which in 1968
won first place in the national Elks Club competition in New
York City. Townsend recalls the sense of community pride people
felt in the victory. Walter Cronkite announced it on the CBS
Evening News and when their bus pulled into town on their
return, drum corps members discovered they were heroes, Townsend
said. “When we got to Douglass Center, there was just a sea of
people,” he said.
The Youth Media Workshop is a
collaboration of WILL AM-FM-TV and William M. Patterson,
associate director of the University of Illinois African
American Cultural Center. The after-school program
teaches African-American youth how to make radio and television
documentaries that link the hip-hop generation to the civil
rights and black power generations.
“I’m very proud of the students who worked on the drum corps
video,” said Kimberlie Kranich, co-director of the workshop.
“They understand their special role in documenting this history
and helping preserve and keeping the legacy moving forward.”
Other Urbana High students who worked on the project were
Coreyawn Donald and Kwan Cobbs.
Patterson said he hopes the film encourages other young people
to learn about the drum corps and community history. “They can
become a part of recapturing the heartbeat of a community that
has a rich legacy of great music, culture and identity,” he
The workshop received a grant from the Illinois Humanities
Council to develop a pilot video about the history of
Champaign’s Douglass Park area.
For more information contact:
217-244-5072 or email@example.com
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