By Darlene L. Williams, Contributing Writer

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The 1ST Annual Kern County Library Black History Film Festival was held Thursday, February 17 at Beale Memorial Library.  The Black History Film Festival was held in the Local History Room of the library.  


Festival attendees admiring the display. (Photo: Darlene L. Williams)

An impressive display of African artifacts, black movie memorabilia, and life-sized posters of icons; Nipsey Hussle and Biggie Smalls lined the walls outside of the Library Room.

African American Film Association and Former Secretary of Negro Actors Guild, Stefan Lambert, captured the history of Black Actors in Film with a riveting presentation about the contributions of actors: Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) Gone With the Wind, the only African American to receive an Academy Award of that day; Paul Roberson Vice President of the N.A.G (Negro Actors Guild), Eartha Kitt (the first African American to be invited to the White House for dinner), Ethel Waters and many others.

Lambert honored Black History Professor and Kern County resident, Jessie Bradford by sharing stories about the beloved professor.  He was the first African American coach at Bakersfield College, and only the third African American instructor at the college. 

Bradford taught Black History for 35 years and was a well-respected historian for the Negro Actors Guild.

“Jessie Bradford, knew that I was a theater major, he took me to Los Angeles and introduced me to some of the worlds most famous African American performers”, Lambert said. 

Following Lambert’s presentation, and a Q & A, Part I: The Black Church, This is our story; This is our song was shown which explored, “The 400 –year-old story of the Black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews”, hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Part II, The Black Church, is scheduled Thursday, February 24, at 3:00 pm with a special presentation by Grandma Whoople on the History of Kern County Black Churches and Songs.

Lambert praised Lynne Kemmer, Librarian, Community Outreach and coordinator of the film festival, for her vision of the Black Film Festival being an annual event at the Beale Library. 

“The library has evolved, Kemmer said, “There’s no longer an old-grey haired lady with horn-rimmed glasses walking around “shushing” you. 

Ryan Nile, CSUB Journalism student (Photo: Darlene L. Williams)

In celebration of Black History Month, all Kern County Libraries presented various film screenings: Jackie Robinson; Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story; I Am Not Your Negro; Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things; Building Atlanta: The Story of Herman Russell; Underground Railroad: The Williams Still Story; A Ballerina’s Tale; Driving While Black: Race, Space & Mobility in America; The Central Park Five; and Muhammad Ali-Round One The Greatest. 

All screenings are free and open to the public. Dates, locations and screen showings can be accessed at www.kerncountylibrary.org