By Ashley Rader
A story that 50 years ago focused the nation’s attention on the fight for civil rights came to life this week in Elizabethton.
Two independent filmmakers are using downtown Elizabethton’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church as part of the set for the independent film “Muddy Waters.”
The film will present a fictionalized depiction of the September 1963 Alabama church bombing that killed four young black girls and injured 23 others at the Birmingham church.
The bombing was seen as a turning point in the battle for civil rights in the South.
Director and writer David Roop said he was inspired to make the film about the church bombing after reading the poem “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall, which is about a mother whose daughter was killed when the bomb exploded.
Roop, who is from Blountville, said he selected St. Thomas Episcopal Church because of its architectural features.
“It is a beautiful church,” he said. “I liked the aesthetics of it. It is a friendly church, too. Everyone has been really great to work with.”
Roop, and producer Douglas McDaniel, worked with a small number of local actors to film two scenes at the church over the course of a few days. The scenes filmed at the church included a choir scene and a Ku Klux Klan scene, which included a burning prop cross and actors wearing KKK hoods.
Roop said the cross was made and designed to be used as a prop in the film.