Gordon S. Williams
Gordon S. Williams
Not only is it famously the kind of town where you don't have to lock your doors, but it's also a place where the community was the reality. Everybody knew each other, everybody was invested in the success of their neighbors as much as themselves, and for a struggling Black town in the 60s, they're one of the finest examples of the difference genuine support can make - in terms of empowering the people that lived there. This documentary follows the story of Charlton-Pollard, a small town on the inside of Beaumont, Texas, and gives you a glimpse of the genuine history of its story from the people who were there.
For a country that truly loves its football, the USA can largely thank Charlton-Pollard for supplying a significant amount of the players that directly ended up playing within the NFL, up to and including legends like Bubba Smith! The hard-working attitude of the community was equally reflected in the competitive spirit of the people that lived in C-P; they loved their sports, from golf to tennis to football and just about everything in between. Charlton-Pollard worked hard, yes – but the truth is, they played every bit as hard as they worked too; it's truly the kind of mythical place that we all look up to now for the values it revealed. The sort of residential haven that taught us anything worth doing is always worth doing as right as you can. Even when it comes to supporting their local sports teams, it wasn't just a matter of playing a game – the entire community came out to sit in the stands and cheer them on, and this film brought the receipts y'all! You'll visually see photos of their stadium packed to the rafters with people.
What I really loved about "They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story" was how real, and tangible its history is - and how that's shown to us through the interviews. You end up cheering C-P's successes, like when their teams win, or its people went on to find new careers. You feel the sting of how losing any piece of their history was a tragedy and left a hole in the heart of their community, like when Charlton-Pollard high school was torn down in 1975. Honestly, you've never seen such a devastating impact up close like this before, and I truly appreciated the perspective it brought to watching this film. Tearing down their history could have been resolved in a much different way, like preserving buildings as historical monuments instead of turning them all into empty space that bears no significance. I loved the amount of heart you can see in this film and the people that lived there - through the interviews we experience and the stories they tell. I thought it was incredible to have the participants even close their eyes to tell us what they see in the vivid memories they have from Charlton-Pollard and how they all related the impact this community still has on them.
As they go on to explain, as they build a new elementary school that bears the community's name, it's not only history they're keeping intact - they're preserving the legacy of the proud people that live there. The number of tears shed along the way will sincerely tell you that the resilient spirit of C-P continues to this very day and that the memories of this town are not to be forgotten. It's right there in the title – "They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story" – which is true as far as I can tell. After having watched this short documentary myself, I know I'll not only remember C-P, but also talk about its legacy.
What would I change, if anything? I'll be real with ya – I'm not so sure how necessary the acted/scripted reporter/interviewee scenes between the primary interviews were in this film overall. While I wouldn't go as far as to say they were detrimental in any way, the shift between what was real and what was scripted was still very noticeable. In my opinion, while I appreciated the angle and spin put on telling the story, it also transitioned this documentary towards being something you'd find in the ol' public library from back in the day or the old educational films you'd be shown in school growing up. As I said, that's not necessarily a bad thing by any means, and it really depends on what Gordon S. Williams was going for in terms of his goals - for where this film would be shown in regards to the direction it has. The purpose of "They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story" could very well be to have it shown in classrooms throughout the nation, and if that's indeed the case, I salute that. Where we come from helps inform us where we can go. History is always vitally important to who we are and who we can become. As the film itself will remind you a couple of times as you watch, this whole story is just getting started, and its legacy continues to this very day. I'm going with a solid three stars out of five - I'll remember the tales told.