Integrating Bradenton

When the students from Lincoln Memorial High School and Manatee High School were thrust into the same classroom environment, there were no documentary cameras rolling, but plenty of people still have memories of the difficult time.

A pair of local judges, one black and one white, spent about a year pulling those stories together in order to tell the story on film. The result is Through The Tunnel, a documentary getting special attention tonight at a red carpet event. We spoke with Circuit Court Judge Charles Williams about his documentary opus.

“It’s mostly done through interviews with Henry Lawrence and and Coach Eddie Shannon, newspaper articles and people’s own recollections of what occurred,” Williams tells SRQ Mag Backlot.

Major football fans may recognize Lawrence as a player for the Raiders from 1974 through 1986. The former pro-bowler will be in attendance tonight and will participate in a panel after the film screens.

“Lawrence would go on to play in the NFL and have a career,but had some issues adjusting to Manatee High School,” Williams says.

Williams and co-director Durand Adams, a retired judge, held a world premiere for the film earlier this year at the all-classes Lincoln Memorial High School reunion, but are excited now to put the film in front of a festival audience. While many documentarians at the festival are dreaming of broad distribution, Williams wants to see his film shown in classrooms.

“We want to use it mostly as an educational tool,” he says. “We will make it available to the schools and those who want to show it to demonstrate the history of Manatee County and other areas.


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