Susan Hadary on ‘Walter P. Carter: Champion for Change’ by Teresa McCormick Ertel

“The Martin Luther King of Maryland”

Walter P. Carter DVDWalter P. Carter was a central figure in ending segregation in Baltimore, Maryland. As chairman of C.O.R.E. (Congress of Racial Equality), he led highly organized non-violent demonstrations credited for inspiring an end to segregation in Baltimore in the 1950s and 60s. Award-winning filmmakers Susan Hannah Hadary and John Anglim tell the story of this peaceful leader through chilling flashback footage and poignant interviews with his colleagues and family members.

When were you first exposed to the work of Walter P. Carter and how did you come to choose him as a film subject?

The Walter P. Carter documentary was the vision of our executive producer, Anthony Lehman, MD. One of the buildings at University of Maryland School of Medicine was named the Walter P. Carter Building. When he started looking into who this person was, he was amazed when his research showed Carter was a Civil Rights leader. He shared his research with us and asked us to do the documentary.

How hard was it to acquire a video from the 1950s when Baltimore was segregated, that had a powerful news interview with an African American hate crime victim and actual demonstration footage on it?

We spent days looking through old news footage film reels. Unfortunately, most of them had no specific dates or logs so it was quite time consuming. We are very grateful to the Stevenson film/video department which supported this effort with faculty and students, as well as their facility.

The lovely vocal of Union Baptist Senior Choir provides a stark and haunting background to some of the black and white archive images. I think showing the choir at the end of the film is a great element. How did you select the music for the score, and how did the choir become connected with the project?

Walter P. Carter’s funeral was at Union Baptist, so this church was very important to us, even before we were considering the score for the documentary. We discussed numerous ideas for the score, but as soon as we came up with the idea and met DeeDee Macer, the head of the Senior Choir, we knew this was going to be our choice. DeeDee Macer and the chorus were very familiar with the songs which had been identified by the documentary participants as the songs they sang during the demonstrations.

What was the Carter family’s reaction to the project?

Carter’s family is extremely pleased that this long overdue tribute has been produced and records this extraordinary contribution to the civil rights movement in Baltimore.

After hearing what those who worked closely with him had to say, what do you find most inspiring about Walter P. Carter?

Walter P. Carter and his fellow CORE members were a very small dedicated group. Together they challenged the culture of segregation, willing to risk their lives and freedom so that their children and grandchildren would have unlimited access to life in Baltimore.

This short film would be a wonderful compliment to lessons in Maryland’s Civil Rights history. Is it being utilized by the school system?

Dr. Lehman, Executive Producer of the film, will be in contact with Baltimore City Schools.

  • King Gimp DVDYou also created King Gimp, winner of the 2000 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, and the Emmy Award-winning Departing Rosewood. H
  • ow has the success of those projects helped to produce your subsequent projects? 

Our real reward is the opportunity to be to produce documentaries and share the lives of others through our productions. That said, winning major awards is essential to attracting funding for subsequent productions.

departingHow long have you and John been making documentaries together? 

John Anglim and I have been working together since 2007. Prior to that I co-produced with Bill Whiteford. John has an extensive background as an investigative journalist for news and has independently won numerous awards. He had always wanted the opportunity to produce documentaries. I had no professional training and chanced into the field years ago.

Susan Hadary and John Anglim.
Susan Hadary and John Anglim.

What is up next for your team?

We are busy on our next productions, but don’t discuss them until they are ready to meet the world.


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