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Standing On My Sisters’ Shoulders and Pieces from the Past:  Heroic Women in Civil Rights started when Producer/Editor and social worker, Joan Sadoff was watching a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement and wanted to know more.

She and her husband, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Robert Sadoff, followed the Freedom Trail through Southern Civil Rights sites.  When they got lost in Mississippi, they asked a woman for directions and she told them that if they have a tape recorder, she and others have stories.  This chance meeting lead to their first documentary “Philadelphia, Mississippi” about the town where Civil Rights workers Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman were slain and the aftermath and impact in the town.  They worked with now best selling author Garth Stein and his wife Andrea on that film.

After that film, they knew there were more stories to tell which lead to “Standing On My Sisters’ Shoulders.”  They started the videotaping stories of Mississippi women who participated in the Civil Rights movement.  An unexpected meeting brought family friend  and TV writer/producer Laura Lipson into the project to bring the story together.  Joan had been a volunteer Candy Striper at the hospital had met Laura the day she was born. Joan says, “How lucky am I to have worked with that baby!”  Since the film has been made, it has been shown worldwide and won a dozen festival awards.  It has been a top seller to libraries across the US and is now being included in the curriculum in many counties in Mississippi.  Hopefully, it will be included statewide and eventually throughout the country.

The Sadoffs have personally shown the film over 200 times to audiences of all ages inspiring many.

A special screening of the film  brought the filmmakers and the heroines of the film to the Kennedy Center where the audience rose to their feet to give the women a standing ovation.  As they walked through the crowd, they were embraced and celebrated.  It was truly a moment that honored them and their legacy.

Since then, Joan wanted to see these stories preserved in a book.  She brought together the women and those who knew them best to write biographical and autobiographical essays about the women’s struggle, taking the stories from the film further.  The Sadoffs have donated many copies of the book to schools and organizations.  

The State Department asked Laura to bring the books and film  to South Africa in celebration of Black History Month.  She spoke to diverse audiences in many cities and rural areas, universities, high schools and community centers.  The audiences found common ground with their stories of struggle and the need to preserve grassroots history.

The films and book have also found a life of their own, continuing over the years to reach new audiences and resonate through the triumphs and setbacks of the last decade.  

Learn more about the filmmakers and authors through these links:

About the filmmakers

About the editors, authors, and biographers

Learn more about the Heroines of the Film and Book or click here to read their bios