FILM- Locked Out: After the school doors opened up

John and Don Martin enter Lane High School– and the history books– September 8, 1959.

Once massive resistance ended 51 years ago and shrank into the indelible stain it would remain on Virginia's history, the story of integration was not over, nor was racial discrimination abated.

Those first 50 black students who walked through the doors of hostile white schools in 1959 learned firsthand what it was to be on the front lines of integration. And their stories are told in Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance, a Center for Politics-sponsored documentary produced by WCVE public television. 

"The Center for Politics felt this was an important chapter in Virginia history," says Bruce Vlk at the Center, which held a conference on massive resistance this summer in Richmond. 

 "[Locked Out] is less about massive resistance than these students taking on something brand new," says WCVE director/producer Mason Mills, who has worked with the Center on its series on Virginia governors– one of whom, Doug Wilder, will be at the Locked Out premiere.

Mills talked to 21 of the students and whittled 20 hours of interviews down to an hour. "The one thing you don't want to do is mess up a story," he says.

"These were kids," says Mills. "What hit me the hardest was how adults were treating kids. They were integrating schools and treated so poorly."

Don Martin was one of those children. He was 12 years old entering the eighth grade at Lane High School in 1959, and the photos of him and his brother looking for an unlocked door– literally– into the school are iconic.

Over the years, he's done many interviews and appeared in other documentaries. Still, the 50th anniversary has been "quite consuming– far more than I anticipated," he says. 

Nonetheless, he'll be there for the premiere of Locked Out. Because his history is part of our history.


5pm Saturday, November 7, Culbreth Theatre. Discussion with Larry Sabato, Governor Douglas Wilder, Mason Mills, Delores Brown, Rita Moseley, and Donald Martin.