Tag Archives: Bill Buckley

Remembering Bill Buckley

Bill Buckley — a pioneering, award-winning filmmaker with a lifelong commitment to social justice and activism — died Friday. The longtime Westporter was 89.

Buckley’s “day job” was making legal videos for a company he owned, B&B Productions. But he was best known for his more than half century of collaboration with fellow Westporter Tracy Sugarman. Their civil rights documentaries are regarded as classics — and national treasures.

Bill Buckley

Bill Buckley, in a typical pose.

In 1969, the duo — with their wives, June Sugarman and Ellie Buckley — formed Rediscovery. The mission was to honor the contributions of black men and women to American society, in areas like medicine, science, politics and the arts.

It was an “integrated” company. The films they produced with African American artists were groundbreaking, and staples of public television for many years.

A charter member of the Director’s Guild of America, Buckley helped create campaign films for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He also worked with Harry Truman on the award-winning television series “Years of Decision.”

I wish had more details of Buckley’s remarkable life. He was a humble man who has not left an internet trail worthy of his work. Suffice it to say that — with Sugarman — his work has affected countless Americans, and motivated many to work for human rights of all kinds.

Buckley’s wife Judy Hamer and family will receive visitors at their home — 2325 Meadow Ridge in Redding — today and tomorrow (Sunday and Monday, January 22 and 23), from 2 to 5 p.m.

A memorial service — filled with jazz music — will be planned in the future.

(To see a sample from Buckley’s video “The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer: Never Turn Back,” click here.)

Inspiring Teens To Tell Their Tales

Tracy Sugarman and Bill Buckley have spent their lives using film, words and illustrations to affect social change.

Bill Buckley trains his camera on the past -- and the future

Bill Buckley trains his camera on the past -- and the future

Now in their 80s — but not slowing down — they brought their 20-minute film, “Immigrant from America,” to the Westport Arts Center last night.  Their mission:  to inspire youngsters from Westport and Bridgeport to keep up the fight.

About 20 students from Bridge Academy — the renowned Bridgeport charter school — and 10 involved with the Westport Youth Film Festival watched the documentary, a probing look at how African Americans used education, economic strength and politics to overcome racial barriers.

Tracy and Bill then led a discussion about stereotypes that remain, 40 years after their film was made.  They challenged the teenagers from both communities to look outside themselves, and work toward a better world.

The filmmakers urged the Westport and Bridgeport youngsters to tell their own stories.  They can use traditional mediums like movies, art and literature, new ones like computer graphics and the internet — and those that have not yet been invented.

Everyone has something to say.  Personal stories are powerful.  After hearing from 2 men who have spent decades telling their own stories, and helping others tell theirs, last night’s audience seems ready to pick up the torch.