Marching Forward, a collaboration between associate professor of history Robert Cassanello and associate professor of film Lisa Mills, along with students in the Honors Advanced Documentary Workshop class, has received a bounty of positive news coverage in tandem with its national release on public television.
The award-winning documentary tells the story of how two Orlando bands came together for a trip to perform at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Edgewater High School’s band — which was all white — got the initial invite. Its band director, Del Kieffner, insisted Jones High School’s band — which was all black — join Edgewater for the performance. Jones High School’s band was led by James “Chief” Wilson.
ClickOrlando spoke to Cassanello and Mills about the project, which was produced from 2016 to 2021 with about 25 UCF students from the Burnett Honors College. “I think what we want audiences to take away from this film is how important it is that an ordinary citizen can make a difference when it comes to diversity, inclusivity, and just generally doing the right thing,” Mills told reporter Carolina Cardona.
90.7 WMFE featured Nina Jones Wilson, Wilson’s daughter, and Dr. Carl MaultsBy, who was in the band that went to the World’s Fair in 1964 and composed music for the film. “This documentary is such a living testimony to what my father’s ideals were and what he committed his life’s work to,” Jones told Clarissa Moon of Intersection. “At the same time…to have the world see what his life was about is quite humbling.”
Spectrum News 13 also connected with Nina Jones Wilson, along with Kay Kimbrough, Kieffner’s daughter, about the impact their fathers had on their community. “They focused on the things they had in common,” Kimbrough told reporter Jeff Allen. “So I think as we move forward in our world, if we can continue to focus on what we have in common, it’s unlimited for us.”
The Orlando Sentinel covered the inspiration and story behind the documentary, speaking to a number of parties involved in its production. “I think that they have worked extraordinarily hard on this,” Kimbrough told reporter Kathleen Christiansen. “It is an amazing opportunity to share with folks in Central Florida … the relationship of these two incredible men and their work with students.”
Marching Forward will air on local public television stations across the U.S. from 2021–2026. It can also be viewed on the WUCF TV website.