The Barber of Birmingham

barber or birmingham2012 Acad­emy Award nom­i­nee for best doc­u­men­tary short.

Get tick­ets for the July 21 screening.

Mr. James Arm­strong is a bar­ber, a “foot sol­dier” and a dreamer whose bar­ber­shop in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama has been a hub for hair­cuts and civil rights since 1955. “The dream” of a promised land, where dig­nity and the right to vote belongs to every­one is doc­u­mented in pho­tos, head­lines and clip­pings that cram every inch of wall space (and between the mirrors).

85-years-young, jaun­tily wear­ing a bowtie and sus­penders, Mr. Arm­strong will cut your hair while recount­ing his expe­ri­ences as a “foot sol­dier”, cit­ing the pic­tures on his wall as he does. In March 1965, civil rights activists began a march from Selma to Mont­gomery call­ing for vot­ing rights. Mr. Arm­strong, an Army Vet­eran, was the proud bearer of the Amer­i­can flag in that march, and it’s said that even as state troop­ers tear-gassed the crowd and beat marchers with billy clubs, he held the flag high. On the annual com­mem­o­ra­tion of Bloody Sun­day he car­ries that flag.

He used his bar­ber chair to edu­cate: “If you want a voice, you have to vote; you can’t com­plain about noth­ing if you don’t vote.” Despite threats to his life and home, his two sons were the first to inte­grate an all white ele­men­tary school. “Dying isn’t the worst thing a man can do. The worst thing a man can do is noth­ing.” No one can accuse Mr. Arm­strong of doing noth­ing; and on the eve of the elec­tion of the first African-American pres­i­dent, the bar­ber of Birm­ing­ham sees his unimag­in­able dream come true.

Directed by Gale Dol­gin and Robin Fry­day
2011, 25 min­utes
Learn more about the movie.