VIDEO -- Reb Arthur: 50 years ago, Desegregating Gwynn Oak Amusement Park

Click the starter arrow below, to open this video and see an extraordinary documentary video on the "walk-in, ride-in" movement fifty years ago to desegregate Gwynn Oak amusement park in Baltimore. One of the featured interviews is of Reb Arthur, describing his first arrest in a moment of life-threatening danger for him and his co-activists as they faced a furious and violent crowd intent on keeping the park all-white.  His interview is intertwined with interviews of others on both sides of that collision and with  photos and film of that moment in the summer of 1963 in the segregated city where  he had grown up.

The words "civil rights movement" all too often evoke thoughts only of the deep south -- Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia.  But little known to most and all too true for many are the conflicts that took place in Maryland.     

The year 1963 was a restless year throughout the state of Maryland.  From Baltimore where Morgan State College students were staging protests at the Northwood Movie Theater to the bucolic Eastern Shore town of Cambridge the tides of racial unrest were rising.   Blacks were not alone in their struggles.     Marching side by side and arm in arm were Whites, Jews, Blacks, priests, rabbis, ministers, businessmen, students, teachers,  husbands, wives,  and children.  Many of these seemingly unlikely protestors were not the targets of discrimination. Yet they left their comfortable homes and took time out of their busy lives to join the struggle-to be yelled at, jeered, spit upon and even beaten.  

This documentary attempts to capture the essence of not only their struggle but their motivation -- the why.     Film makers Pete and Beverly O'Neal have amassed over 15 hours of eyewitness accounts and personal narratives of those involved in the desegregation of the park.  All sides are presented --  those who were allowed into the park,  those who were not.  

Original  photographs from the now defunct News American newspaper, newly uncovered film footage  and artifacts stored in garages and basements  for the past 50 years provide a clear account of all the players. Exactly who were the people involved, where were they from and what was their motivation?    

 All the King's Horses: The Story of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park documents the good times surrounding the park and the bad times.  The last of those wonderful Baltimore amusement parks was a prize to be won --the brass ring on the carousel of history. But the prize would not last much longer.  Bankruptcy and Hurricane Agnes were catastropic for the park.  This project also  recounts  the end of the park and events which may have precipitated its demise.

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