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‘Once More at the River’ documents civil rights and activism in Memphis

Professor Joe Hayden, Assistant Professor Roxane Coche, and journalism student Caleb Suggs at the documentary’s premier.

For months, students at the University of Memphis interviewed more than 20 civil-rights activists and other key figures in Memphis for a documentary timed around the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. That documentary, “Once More at the River: From MLK to BLM,” premiered Tuesday night at the U of M’s University Center Theater.

The one-hour film was produced by Professor Joe Hayden and Assistant Professor Roxane Coche, of the U of M’s Department of Journalism and Strategic Media, and journalism student Caleb Suggs. Coche now teaches at the University of Florida.

“From the 1960s picket signs to today’s hashtags, the interviewees reflect on the past fifty years in Memphis, discussing the impact of both activism and the city’s history on the lives of African Americans today. They tell us the story of activism in the city from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, from Dr. King’s assassination to MLK50 (the 50th anniversary of his death). They explain how Memphis compares to the rest of the US, and what to look forward to in the future of the nation,” the documentary’s producers wrote at

U of M students took a two-course history and journalism sequence in the 2017-2018 academic year for this project. In history, “Memphis and the Movement” offered historical context to students to prepare them to interview civil-rights figures in the city. In journalism, “Reporting Social Justice” gave students intense training and oral-history interview techniques. Those interviews are a component of the Once More at the River project, a repository archived in the National Civil Rights Museum and at the Special Collections Department of the University of Memphis.

Interested organizations can request a screening of “Once More at the River” through the documentary’s website.

— Phillip Tutor, CCFA media coordinator,


Images from the premiere

Published inCollege of Communication and Fine ArtsDepartment of Journalism and Strategic Media

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