Louisiana: A History trailer

Moving Image
Created: 2003


Louisiana: A History trailer
Summary: "'The Search for Order', the fourth episode in a six-part documentary series on the history of Louisiana, covers the period 1865 to the 1920s. Actress and Louisiana native Lynn Whitfield narrates the compelling story of a people caught up in a turbulent time of destruction and disorder. Her narration is supplemented by contemporary first-person accounts which are voiced over archival images and scenes artfully created for the camera. Taking care to employ visual abstraction, atmospheric lighting and subtle filtration, these video sequences suggest -- rather than show -- historical personalities, actions and locales. Scholars in the fields of history, music and literature appear on camera to add detail and depth to the narrative.

"The program begins with a look at the federal policy of Reconstruction, first used in Louisiana. Its aim was the restructuring of the southern political status quo and for a time, it brought about access to government and a chance for social and economic advancement for many African Americans. But threats to the old social order also gave rise to para-military groups and large-scale terrorist activity across the state.

"When federal troops withdrew from Louisiana, white supremacists consolidated control over most of the state's political institutions. They had lost their War for Southern Independence, but they would not give up on their Lost Cause.

"As series host Stephen E. Ambrose notes in his introduction, 'The horror of human bondage had been replaced by political and economic enslavement for blacks and poor whites alike. Corrupt politicians and the wealthy elite exploited the troubles of this time and steered the state on a course toward racial violence.'

"'The Search for Order' uses historical perspective to cast light on current issues, such as education and race relations. As Louisiana's leaders marched backwards into the future, their gaze set firmly on a slowly receding mythic past, an indifferent state government ignored the educational needs of generations of white and black Louisianians. As the 19th century ended, a new Louisiana constitution slashed African American voter registration by 95%. At the same time, nearly a quarter of the state's poor whites were also disenfranchised.

"Despite retrogressive and unresponsive political and economic systems, Louisiana managed to nurture great artistic talent -- especially in the areas of literature and music. Writers like Kate Chopin and George Washington Cable recounted tales of 'local color' and musicians, according to scholar and jazz clarinetist Michael White, ''found out that they could give music new life -- freedom -- which is what the people were really looking for.' That search for freedom led to a bold new style called jazz -- Louisiana's greatest contribution to the arts.

"The Age of Jazz coincided with slow, incremental improvements in Louisiana's economy. But the state still lagged behind much of the nation.

"The program ends in the early spring of 1927, as the rain-swollen waters of the Missouri, Ohio and countless other mid-western rivers converged on the Mississippi River valley. Louisiana braced itself for the deluge, but would soon be caught up in a flood of change no one saw coming."--2003 Peabody Awards entry form.

This is a promotional trailer for the series, submitted as a supplement to the entry.

Corporate Producers: Louisiana Public Broadcasting Television Network

Persons Appearing: Lynn Whitfield (Narrator)

Broadcast Date: 2003