AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents “The Blinding of Isaac Woodard”
Coming to PBS on March 30, “The Blinding of Isaac Woodard” follows the story of a WWII veteran who becomes a victim of police violence in 1946.
Isaac Woodard, a Black army sergeant on his way home to South Carolina after serving in WWII, was taken off a Greyhound bus after a heated exchange with the driver, who refused to let him off at a rest stop to use the restroom.
The local chief of police savagely beat him, leaving him unconscious and permanently blind. The shocking incident made national headlines and, when the police chief was acquitted by an all-white jury, the injustice would change the course of American history.
Based on Richard Gergel’s book Unexampled Courage, the film details how the crime led to the racial awakening of South Carolina Judge J. Waties Waring and President Harry Truman, who desegregated the military and federal offices two years later.
It also ultimately set the stage for the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which finally outlawed segregation in public schools and jumpstarted the modern civil rights movement.
Jamila Ephron (producer and director) and Cameo George (series executive producer) joined Richard Gergel (U.S. District Court Judge, Charleston, South Carolina, and author of Unexampled Courage) and Sherrilyn Ifill (President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.) to discuss the film with critics.