As America honors Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Theo M. Moore II of Opelika said it’s also a day to remember those who supported King and were by his side while bringing social change to America.
“It’s important to reflect on what he has sacrificed and reflect on his messages because they still apply today,” Moore said of King. “He was the face of the movement, but there were so many others.”
Moore, 32, is the founder and executive director of Hiztorical Vision Productions, a nonprofit documentary film organization he created in 2017 that focuses on sharing the untold success stories of African Americans in Alabama.
“For the most part, we usually get fed the same things: the civil rights movement, victimization, slavery, beatings and things of that nature,” he said. “We have heard that story, but there’s a lot of great things that were going on despite of that. I try my best to bring that part out.”
Moore said he wants to preserve stories, provide a platform for people to tell their stories, shine a light on communities, tell the state’s history through the lens of African Americans and create films that inspire all.
In his films, he highlights the beginning of Black leadership, entrepreneurship and education in the state and African Americans who created spaces of their own by establishing their own settlements and cities.
“These are things, as people of color, something that you can actually be proud of,” Moore said. “It’s motivational and inspiring to see people, during a time where I’m sure it was way more difficult, pull those accomplishments off.”
Moore will be screening his latest documentary, “Afrikan By Way of American,” on Feb. 17 at Jule Collins Museum at Auburn University (time TBD) and on Feb. 19 at the Opelika Public Library at 6:00 p.m.
This documentary is currently circulating in film festivals and has already won the award for best historical documentary at the Southern Film Festival in LaGrange, Ga.
Moore’s other films can be found on YouTube or on the Hiztorical Vision Productions website www.hiztoricalvp.org.
Love of history
While doing research for his master’s program and later while working as a history teacher, Moore realized that there is a lot of history that isn’t being tapped into.
One day while teaching his 10th grade history class at Valley High School, Moore gave his students a reading assignment and saw almost every student pull out their phone to watch a video about the reading.
“That dawned on me,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that the research I was doing was accessible to everyone, and that’s where the film idea came into play.”
Moore said he had never thought of making films before that moment, but decided to teach himself how.
Since then he’s completed three documentary films: “Crown the County of Lowndes” (2018), “Hobson City: From Peril to Promise” (2019) and “Afrikan By Way of American: History of Africatown” (2021).
“I’m the type of educator that meets people where they are, and right now during this time, a lot of students and people get a lot of information digitally,” Moore said. “I want my work to actually reach people.”
Moore said the people he interviews for his films are older and concerned about preserving their stories. They want their voices to be heard and their stories told, but there are not many outlets for it.
“It’s very humbling and it’s such an honor as well because a lot of the people that I sit across from really paved the way from a social aspect in the state,” he said.
Moore grew up in public housing in Anniston, Ala., and said he was always curious and asking questions about why things were the way they were.
“The only subject that made sense to me and where I got my answer was history,” he said.
Moore had history teachers who inspired him and “hooked” him on the subject, which gave him the passion to be an educator and a historian.
Moore graduated from Troy University in 2012 with a degree in history and a minor in Greek mythology and earned a master’s degree in post-secondary education with a concentration in history.
He is currently in the Education Policy and Organization Leadership Doctoral Program online at the University of Illinois.
He was a teacher for five years before working at Tuskegee University as the collections manager for The Legacy Museum.
‘Bigger than me’
Now, aside from making films, he’s the Black Heritage Council Coordinator for the Alabama Historical Commission, where he assists in preserving African-American sites and cemeteries across the state.
This year, Moore plans to focus on engaging the Auburn-Opelika community and building a solid team.
Moore said his wife, Jocelyn, is a big part of the organization and is his support system.
“I’m more of the creator and dreamer; she’s more the detailed realistic person,” he said.
Moore has a few volunteers that help him either with research or with production, but Moore does the bulk of the research, scriptwriting, production and post-production.
“This mission is bigger than me,” Moore said. “It’s time for me to give up some of that to some aspiring young professionals that want to get into film.”
Moore said he has more projects planned for the future.