Robert F. Kennedy has long been identified with Massachusetts and New York. Tomorrow, the former attorney general and slain presidential candidate will be featured in a PBS documentary whose roots lie right here.
“RFK in the Land of Apartheid: Ripples of Hope” (Channel 13, 10 p.m.) is produced and directed by Westonite Larry Shore, a film and media studies professor at Hunter College.
The film’s outreach director, John Suggs, lives — and serves on the RTM — in Westport.
Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, and interviews in South Africa and the United States, the film tells the story of Senator Kennedy’s influential 1966 visit to South Africa, during the worst years of apartheid. It also explores the role of individual South Africans who challenged the oppression and made a commitment to change.
As with so many local creative endeavors, there’s a Westport Library connection.
More than 6 years ago, when Shore and Suggs were struggling for funding, they received vital assistance from library director Maxine Bleiweis and her staff.
She arranged an early public screening of the basic concepts and footage of the film. It was a long shot for attracting money — but it worked.
To thank the library, Suggs and Shore returned in December 2009 for one fo the 1st public screenings of the final cut. The event was co-sponsored by TEAM Westport.
Since then the film has been shown all over the world — including the JFK Presidential Library in Boston; Washington, DC for dignitaries including Ethel Kennedy; the UN’s Geneva office, and throughout South Africa.
Closer to home, the film served as the 2010-2011 official common “text” for the students at Fairfield University.
Tomorrow night — thanks in part to Larry Shore, John Suggs, their neighbors and their library — the entire country can learn about this important, long-forgotten part of Robert Kennedy’s legacy.