New Documentary Traces Search For Blues Legends And Civil Rights Murders
A new documentary called Two Trains Runnin' examines the alignment of three separate events that took place on June 21, 1964.
First, three young civil rights workers were murdered Ku Klux Klan members in Neshoba County, Miss., while participating in the Freedom Summer voter initiative. The brutal murders surrounding the Freedom Summer initiative marked a crucial moment in the civil rights movement, making national news and providing motivation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
On this same day, three young men drove through Mississippi looking for the man they'd heard on a select few 78s recorded in 1931, Skip James. The trio found James in a hospital in Tunica.
Finally, and remarkably, three other men were searching that same day for another lost blues legend, Son House, who they tracked down at his home in Rochester. House had recorded what would become highly influential Delta blues music during the 1930s.
Neither James nor House were aware that their music had found new audiences, and both ended up at the Newport Folk Festival the following month, which helped relaunch their careers.
Two Trains Runnin' details these two searches as they sync with the tragic events of what came to be known as the Mississippi Burning murders. This remarkable yet daunting subject matter presented a challenge for the filmmakers, writer Benjamin Hedin (In Search Of The Movement: The Struggle For Civil Rights Then And Now) and director Sam Pollard (4 Little Girls, The Rise And Fall of Jim Crow).
"I was initially hesitant to try and tackle this," Pollard told Rolling Stone. " I thought that telling the story of the search for Son House and Skip James would be hard, but telling the story of Freedom Summer would be double-y or even triple-y hard. But I said, 'OK, let's tackle it.' It took us on a journey."
The journey began to gel with the inclusion of GRAMMY-winning artists. The film was narrated by its executive producer, Common, and with commentary from the likes of Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams and Gary Clark Jr., Two Trains A Runnin' promises to provide a meaningful look into a crucial moment in our musical and cultural history.