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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power

Finalist in Video Series


Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power, tells the story of the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who fought not only for voting rights in Lowndes County, Alabama, but for Black Power. The documentary from Geeta Gahdbhir and Sam Pollard highlights a largely unknown story in our nation's history and brings to light the power of local grassroots movements and the future generations of leaders and organizers working collectively. 

The critical work done by SNCC organizers for voting rights is foundational to the modern movements for civil rights in the United States today.

Participant’s goals were to create awareness of the film and set the stage for a strong campaign; engage the next generation of movement leaders by making the story of Lowndes County available in classrooms across the country and beyond; and bolster both education and other civic movement spaces with a grassroots strategy to use Lowndes County as a blueprint for community organizing nationally. 

The campaign established partnerships with educators to help expand on the documentary with guides and curriculum, and worked with content creator Garrison Hayes to create an original and supplemental video series about the film and history of Lowndes County to social media platforms. The curriculum and video series broadened the reach of this incredible film to inspire and teach.  

Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power premiered at Tribeca before screening at Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival and several other international festivals.

Strategy and Execution

Participant worked with several partners on this film - some working on distribution of the film and others brought on to help activate impact goals of the campaign. The Participant team aligned all stakeholders on the goals of the campaign through intense discussion, brainstorm and ideation, ultimately leading to a  shared strategy

The campaign team coordinated with the Long Beach School district, one of the largest in the country, to host a community screening with educational leaders, and also provided space for conversations about the long term lessons and impact of the movement in Lowndes County. Getting buy-in from the superintendents and local civil servants for programs in the school was critical to launch the curriculum.  

In addition to bringing this story to classrooms, the campaign brought millions more people into the conversation during Black History Month by partnering with content creator Garrison Hayes.  Hayes has a dedicated and active following and his content focuses on topics running from history to race to grief. He unpacks big concepts to make them accessible, making him an ideal partner for this activation. 

Participant and Hayes produced a four-part series that highlighted key moments, themes, and interviews featured in the film. This series, Black Defiance Mixtape, brought in audiences from several social media platforms to the conversation that might not have otherwise heard of the film. 

We launched the series shortly after the film became available on Peacock. 

In addition, Participant launched a 3-part web series entitled The Return to the Bridge. The series commemorates the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, raises awareness about the ongoing battle for voting rights in Alabama and across the nation, and urges local, state, and federal officials to pass voting rights protections. The series features activists, including Black Voters Matter’s LaTosha Brown and National Action Network’s Ron Sailer. The series has garnered over 20k views across TikTok and Instagram.  

Episode #1: Beyond the Election: Why Voting is Key to Social Transformation”

Episode #2: “Unsung Heroes: Black Women in the Fight for Voting Rights”

Episode #3: “Student Organizing: Carrying Forward the Legacy of our Ancestors”


The Long Beach School district adopted the film as curriculum for grades 6-12 English Language Arts, and History.  At the university level, the campaign spearheaded the creation of a module which was made available for all universities and university professors in the U.S. to use to teach the story of Lowndes County. This documentary is now a resource for students across the country at a time where the preservation of history is paramount to the continued fight for civil liberties.

Since the release of the Black Defiance Mixtapes, the series has so far garnered over 1.6M views, 372K engagements, and more than 1.2M accounts reached. Episode 2 is one of the most viewed videos on Participant’s social platforms, and it was watched across the globe.This story might have been about one county in Alabama, but the inspiration is universal in its application.

Education was the heartbeat of this campaign, both in classrooms and beyond, furthering the reach and access to this documentary. Since its premiere the film has been nominated for a Critics Choice Best Historical Documentary award and two News & Documentary Emmy awards.  


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