Directed by
Bourne, St. Clair, American, 1943 - 2007
Produced by
Chamba Productions, founded 1971
Composed by
Hancock, Herbie, American, born 1940
Subject of
Nairobi College, founded 1969
Created by
California State University, Los Angeles, American, founded 1947
Subject of
The City College of the City University of New York, American, founded 1847
St. Petersburg College, American, founded 1927
Clark Atlanta University, American, founded 1988
Morehouse College, American, founded 1867
Owned by
Bowser, Pearl, American, 1931 - 2023
acetate film
Duration: 30 Minutes
Length (Film): 1190 Feet
16mm color film directed by St. Clair Bourne and produced by his production company, Chamba Productions, for the College Entrance Examination Board. The film provides various perspectives on the college experience and presents resources to encourage minority youth to attend college.
A short film with the title Something to Build on. It consists of a single reel of 16mm color acetate film with optical sound. The film was directed by St. Clair Bourne and produced by his production company, Chamba Productions, for the College Entrance Examination Board. It provides various perspectives on the college experience and presents resources to encourage minority youth to attend college.
The film begins with an introduction animated segment of a young black man walking down a city sidewalk and then entering a doorway with the word College written over it. A musical soundtrack accompanies the animation. He walks down the hallway past doors and a trophy case while the voiceover narration begins. The narration focuses on thinking about how to get started on applying for college. The animation sequence depicts the prospective student collecting paperwork, talking to the administrative staff, and running to a door with a college sign next to it. The animated introduction ends and the film transitions to live action and title cards, just before a man is seen running out of a store, across a parking lot, and eventually into his car.
The next scene shows a professor leading a class discussion in a classroom. Then there is an exterior shot of Nairobi College and the man from earlier in the film running in the front door. The college is located in a small house. The narrator introduces the college and the man joins the classroom conversation. The narrator introduces Nate Perry, the man that has been in the film, and he talks about enrolling in Nairobi College. The narrator explains that the purpose of the college is to teach leaders for non-white communities and break down the separation of the college and the community by holding classes in different locations. The next scene shows the Nairobi College Cultural Center and students playing music and dancing. The next subject of the film is California State College (California State University) in Los Angeles. The narrator discusses the importance of the college for the Mexican American community. There is a shot of the front door of College Recruitment for Educational Opportunity (CREO). The door also has a sign for Community Relations for Educational Opportunity (also CREO). People are shown walking into the office and talking to someone in the office and he answers questions about gaining admission to college. A man is shown talking outside and a group discussion ensues about confronting the power structure. An inside classroom discussion also shows students talking about similar problems as those in the outside discussion.
The next scene shows New York City and the narrator begins talking about City College of New York in Harlem and the importance of providing both financial assistance as well as special counseling and tutoring. However, the narrator points out that black and Puerto Rican students demanded an open admissions policy. A group of students is shown discussing education issues and going back to the community to work and raise awareness. The narrator introduces Megan McLaughlin, and she describes through a voiceover narration the Search for Elevation, Education, and Knowledge (SEEK) Program. She is shown walking on sidewalks during the voiceover narration. The next scene features St. Petersburg College, and the narrator discusses attending a junior college before attending a four-year institution. Students share their experiences and how students can benefit from attending a junior college. The smaller classes are beneficial and the opportunity to balance home life with attending college are among those benefits. The scene is filmed inside of a moving car while Don Gekkins, director of the Service Center Program, talks about how the program works. The next scene shows him entering a classroom where children are reciting words displayed on cards held by a tutor from the junior college. Don Gekkins is then shown leaving his house with his two sons and playing with them. Gekkins, in a voiceover narration, describes growing up in a depressed area of St. Petersburg.
The next scene shows a college marching band leading a parade down a street. The narrator discusses this parade in the context of a four-year university and the distractions of a four-year university, particularly sports events. The university being discussed appears to be Howard University in Washington, D.C. After footage of cheerleaders and a football game, a football player is interviewed about attending college on a scholarship. After the interview, there is footage of a football practice. The next scene includes an interview with Tom Nelson, a college graduate and ex-professional football player. The next scene shows two men picking up trash on the sidewalk, then some other men performing municipal trash service. There is footage of a college campus, probably Clark University in Atlanta, while the narrator discusses the main reasons for attending college. The next scene shows a woman walking on a sidewalk and into a building while the narrator begins a discussion about financial aid. The woman enters an office and talks to a financial aid officer while the narrator discusses the difference between types of financial aid. The next scene shows a student from Nigeria at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and he discusses studying science to bring back knowledge to Nigeria. The film ends with the narrator presenting a summary of what has been discussed, and there is a montage of images from the entire film.
Place filmed
East Palo Alto, San Mateo County, California, United States, North and Central America
Los Angeles, California, United States, North and Central America
Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, United States, North and Central America
Harlem, New York City, New York County, New York, United States, North and Central America
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States, North and Central America
Collection title
Pearl Bowser Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
sound films
color films (visual works)
16mm (photographic film size)
HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
Urban life
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public Domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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