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Virtual History Happy Hour: The 30th of May

Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


an African American Memorial Day Tradition

Independent filmmaker Jim Theres shares his experience researching, writing, and directing a uniquely American story.

Immediately after the end of the Civil War in 1865, newly freedmen and women from across the South began celebrating freedom with parades, ceremonies, and special events. The 30th of May documents the story of Black Americans in Natchez, Mississippi, and Vidalia, Louisiana who have been marching to the Natchez National Cemetery to celebrate Black military service since 1889.

For over 100 years, the city of Natchez had two Memorial Day celebrations—one black and one white. By the mid-1990s, only the celebration hosted by Black community members, known as the “30th of May,” continued to march on. Virtually unknown outside of the region, the tradition of participation is passed down from generation to generation giving evidence that the roots of patriotism run deep in the Mississippi River towns of Vidalia, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi.

This parade is one of the longest-running Memorial Day celebrations in the country.

Using animation, archival and aerial footage, and interviews with veterans, organizers, and participants, the award-winning documentary The 30th of May brings to life the remarkable untold story of this African American-led patriotic tradition in the Deep South. The film’s original score captures the spirit of this unique event.

Upon registration, you will be provided a digital link to the film, which you can view on your own time.  Join us virtually on June 3rd to meet Jim Theres, writer and director of The 30th of May, to discuss the research and making of this remarkable documentary.

James William Theres is an award-winning public affairs officer and speechwriter at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C.   Mr. Theres obtained a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and an MA in history from Jackson State University.  An independent filmmaker, he has written, directed, and produced two award-winning documentaries, The 30th of May and The Hello Girls.

For accommodation requests, please contact the museum via email or at 301-774-0022.

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