Welcoming Tennessee, a project of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, is featured prominently in the documentary film "Welcoming to Shelbyville," which will be shown in a free screening tomorrow, Friday, November 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Scarritt Bennett's Laskey Great Hall, 1008 19th Avenue South, in Nashville.
The documentary, which bears the name of the Middle Tennessee city where it was filmed, is part of the Independent Television Service’s (ITVS) Community Cinema program. It will screen in over 90 communities in May 2011, to be accompanied by broadcasts nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens.
This May 2009 article in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette newspaper describes Welcoming Tennessee's work in Shelbyville:
TIRRC launched its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (WTI) in 2006, and began to focus on Shelbyville in last year, beginning with a billboard campaign, followed by several events held by the organization in conjunction with local groups such as El Centro Latino.Here is what The New Republic had to say about the film:
Events in Shelbyville included a presentation by members of the Hispanic and Somali communities along with information about WTI; a citizenship clinic; a "unity and understanding" rally held at the Fly Arts Building with the Bedford County Chapter of Statewide Organizing for Justice; and another recent gathering involving the Somali community.
What is remarkable about the Shelbyville story is that during the course of the year-long filming, long-term residents of the town start to change. You see the complexities and the fluidity of the way both immigrants and residents make adjustments to their way of life, to their way of thinking, and to their way of interacting with each other.The free screening tomorrow will be followed by a panel with individuals featured in the film. Light refreshments will be provided.
How did this happen? It is likely that if a grassroots collaborative called Welcoming Tennessee had not stepped in, things may have gone very differently.
The trailer is here and below.