Jack McGovern ’15 Portrays Gittens Protest In 45-Minute Documentary

Sitting in Cochran Chapel during last year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day All-School Meeting (ASM), Jack McGovern ’15 heard Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development, speak about Brian Gittens ’89, who 25 years ago led a protest on the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall over Andover’s limited recognition of MLK Day.

“When I heard that story, I was inspired by the activist, [and] as a filmmaker I knew there had to be much more behind the story,” said McGovern.

McGovern then set out to make a documentary on Gittens’s 1989 protest. The ten month long project, entitled “The Story of Brian Gittens” was premiered in Kemper Auditorium this Sunday.

“What Brian Gittens showed in this act is that every student has a voice … it’s important to realize the power that each person has in the school,” said McGovern.

For McGovern, the documentary was a chance to explore the topic of multiculturalism, a topic he said he was unfamiliar with.

“I love listening to the perspectives of others and at the same time practicing empathy,” said McGovern.

Even though the topic was new territory for McGovern, he was able to express it in a familiar medium: film.

“[I wanted] to use my skills as a filmmaker to document the story… keep that story in the Andover community for a very long time,” continued McGovern.

Following the film premier on Sunday, there was a question and answer session where audience members could pose questions to McGovern and Gittens.

“[After watching the movie], I took away the fact that students have power and often underestimate how much influence they actually have,” said Tyler Craigwell ’18, an attendee of the film.

“I went, because it was a part of my own interest…it was related to my identity and ethnicity,” said Moyo Oyebode ’18.

The movie will be shown again this Sunday in Kemper Auditorium at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.