Marching Forward

MARCHING FORWARD shares the story of two high school band directors - one black, one white - whose love of music and dedication to their students inspired an atypical collaboration in the segregated south. Their friendship and professional cooperation resulted in the experience of a lifetime for two Orlando-area bands at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In the early 1960s, the Orlando community and its schools were still segregated. James "Chief" Wilson led the Jones Marching Tiger Band at the city's only black public high school. "Daddy" Del Kieffner directed the all-white Edgewater High School's Marching Eagle Band. Jones's band was regarded as Orlando's best, winning awards and receiving regular invitations to entertain at community and town events. When Edgewater received the sole invitation to perform at the World's Fair, Wilson and Kieffner launched efforts to fundraise simultaneously and campaign elected officials so both student bands could travel to New York. Interviews with former students, Kieffner's children, and Wilson and his family recount this chapter in Orlando's history - both the moments of unity forged in the community, as well as the challenges and inequities of the Jim Crow-era South.

Episode Duration: 56 minutes and 41 seconds

Episode Number:


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