Free screening of Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles at Tennessee State Museum

On the steps of the physical education building, the Tennessee A&I University Tigerbelles stand behind fifty trophies they have won over the years. Standing l-r, Shirley Griffin, Wilma Rudolph, Shirley Crowder, Barbara Jones, Lucinda Williams, Martha Hudson, Annia Smith, Joann Terry, Coach Ed Temple.

A special free screening of Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles, a documentary telling the story of legendary Tennessee State University (TSU) track and field coach Ed Temple and 40 African American female athletes who broke the color barrier at the 1960 Rome Olympic games, will take place at the Tennessee State Museum on Feb. 16, from 2-4 pm. The museum is located at 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. at the corner of Jefferson Street on Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Registration for the free event is requested through Eventbrite or TNMuseum.org/calendar-of-events.

Created by Academy Award-nominated Middle Tennessee State University Media Arts film professor Tom Neff and students and faculty from the College of Media and Entertainment, the film will be followed by a discussion with TSU alumnus and current Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk, Howard Gentry, former Tigerbelle and Olympic Gold Medal winner Chandra Cheeseborough and Neff. The screening is presented in partnership with the State Museum, MTSU, TSU, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and The African American Guide to Nashville.

Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles, which was included on the 2018 International Documentary Association’s short list of film shorts, boasts a stellar roster of interviewees and rare footage of the athletes who brought home 23 medals from the Rome Olympic games, including 16 golds. Wilma Rudolph, the Tigerbelle to achieve the most acclaim, became the first American to win three gold medals in a single Olympic Game. All the women completed their college education earning their bachelor’s degrees, with many earning masters and doctorates.

Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles was nearly three years in the making.

“The more we got into the story, the more pressure we put on ourselves to tell it in an innovative way,” said writer-director Neff, who teaches film, documentaries and media management at MTSU and is the Emmy-winning founder of the Documentary Channel.

Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles shows how the young women of TSU struggled to practice with no financial aid and no support during the Jim Crow era.

“They could win gold medals at the Olympics, on a world stage, and yet come back home and not be able to eat in a restaurant,” said Gentry, whose family served TSU since the late 1940s and whose father was the football coach at TSU during the period of Coach Temple.

The film aired last spring on the CBS Sports Network, and the filmmakers plan to enter it in festivals. It was also named as an official selection of the 2018 Holly Shorts Film Festival in August.

DVDs of Mr. Temple and the Tigerbelles will be available to purchase at the Museum Store and online. A portion of sales goes to the Ed and Charlie

B. Temple Scholarship Fund and the Coach Edward S. Temple Fund for New Hope Academy at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

You can learn more about the film by visiting www.tigerbellesmovie.com.

The Tennessee State Museum is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the museum takes visitors on a journey (through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational programming) from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day.

Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am-5 pm; Thursdays from 10 am–8 pm; and Sundays from 1–5 pm. For more information on exhibitions and events, visit tnmuseum.org.