Institute's community focuses on midwifery

ALBANY -- At its sixth Monthly Community Night on Thursday, the Albany Civil Rights Institute will focus on African-American childbirth during the Jim Crow era.

The event includes a screening of the film "All My Babies" followed by a discussion. The film, originally produced by the state of Georgia as an instructional film for African-American midwives, chronicles the work of Albany midwife Mary Coley in the early 1950s. The discussion will focus on midwifery at Miss Bea's, a Camilla facility run by and for African-American women at which thousands of African-American children were born. The panel will include Arilla Smiley, a midwife at Miss Bea's; Jacquelyn Brisco, Smiley's daughter and the current co-owner of Miss Bea's, and Camilla Mayor Mary Jo Haywood.

All My Babies, directed by acclaimed documentarian George Stoney, follows Albany midwife Mary Coley as she attends to births in the Albany area. The film shows the challenges midwives faced and the expertise they needed to provide good care to their patients in Jim Crow Georgia. As filmmaker George Stoney wrote, his hope was that the film and the story of Mrs. Coley might help African American and white communities "communicate with open hearts."

The discussion that will follow the film will expand on these themes and relate them back to the experiences and expertise of the women on the panel. Smiley received her license to perform midwifery in 1963 and practiced as a midwife in southwest Georgia until her retirement in 1987. During that time, she delivered more than 1,000 babies. In 2005, she was honored by the International Center for Traditional Childbearing, who gave her their Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable career.

The July 29th Monthly Community Night will start a half hour earlier than usual at 7:00 p.m. at ACRI, 326 Whitney Avenue, Albany. The event is free and open to the public.

Musical revue returns for Camilla Gnat Days

CAMILLA -- The the 7th annual Gnat Days Musical Revue is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 12 and 8 p.m. Aug. 13-14 at the Mitchell County High School Theater .

"In our past performances, we have showcased country and oldies style music," Camilla Chamber of Commerce Director Jennifer Burnum said. "We are excited to offer something different this year as we have chosen delightfully familiar songs from movies. The show promises to be just as entertaining with moments of both laughter and sheer nostalgia."

This year's performance showcases songs from movies including "Grease," "The Sound of Music," "Ghostbusters" and "Casablanca."

Featured vocalists scheduled to perform include Dennis Autrey, Amy Brooks, Eric Brooks, Joey Davis, Mary Beth Morris, Danny Singleton, Rusty Summerlin, Taffee Ray, Adela Ford, Gillian Ford, Riley Ford, and a special appearance by 2009's "Clash of the Choirs" winner, The Jones Family. This year's dance ensemble includes Melissa Cochran, Sarah Lynn Davis, Eric Santos, Laura Santos, Luci Conine, Paige Huey, Gail Moss, Holly Pollock, Alicia Shirah, Paul Shirah, Ginna Waters and Christy Wray.

"The response to this production has been fantastic," Burnum said. "After taking a break in 2009, the cast and crew are ready to come back with a bang!"

The show is directed and produced by Alicia Shirah. Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at the chamber, The Bistro, Hodges Jewelry, Supernova and Simply the Best. For information, contact the chamber at (229) 336-5255.