With a diverse range of experience anchoring, hosting, moderating live television shows, and writing for television and radio, Joanne Williams has made a significant impact in the world of media. Over the years, she has conducted thousands of thought-provoking interviews with individuals from various backgrounds including artists, writers, politicians, activists, and thinkers. Joanne, now a Filmmaker, decided to make a film about an exchange that took place more than 50 years ago between Black and White high school students in Wisconsin called The Exchange In White America: Kaukauna & King 50 Years Later.
In 1966, Rufus King High School in Milwaukee and Kaukauna High School in the Fox River Valley participated in an exchange program that allowed students to live in each other's homes, attend classes in each other's schools, and perform the groundbreaking play "In White America" in both cities.
The exchange happened right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, when tensions were high and the struggle for racial equality was at its peak. For some of the Kaukauna students, it was the first time they had ever seen Black people in person. For the Black and White students from Milwaukee, it was their first time living in a small, all-white town in central Wisconsin.
Joanne Williams' documentary captures a unique experiment that took place in 1966 during the Civil Rights era. The exchange program involved students from Milwaukee's Rufus King High School and Kaukauna High School, who lived in each other's homes, attended classes in each other's schools, and performed the play "IN WHITE AMERICA" by Martin Duberman.
Over fifty years later, the original participants reunite with a new generation to reprise the play with renewed energy and reflection in the context of our current racial reckoning.
Learn more about the film and how you can see it at theexchange50.com.