They Are Talking: LU reflects on the one-year anniversary of “They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story”

On Feb. 18, 2022, in the historic Jefferson Theatre in downtown Beaumont, a conversation began.

The Jefferson Theatre is home to a variety of film premieres from a large number of filmmakers in the area. However, on that night, it was no ordinary film premiere. Instead, it was the premiere of “They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story,” a documentary created by Lamar University Television Productions showcasing Beaumont’s first Black neighborhood, its people, its history and its legacy.

Flocked by members of the community, members of Lamar University and the cast and crew, the premiere of the documentary set in motion what would be a year of success, awards, conversation and teaching.

“I didn’t fully grasp how big the story of the Charlton-Pollard neighborhood was until I was at the premiere,” said James Cottingham, former communication student and crew member on the project. “There were hundreds of people from the neighborhood yelling and in pure joy. They were happy that the representation of their neighborhood was brought out on screen.”

Since the premiere of the project, it has garnered state, national and international acclaim. It was accepted into a number of film festivals including the Prison City Film Festival, the San Antonio International Black Film Festival, the Orlando International Film Festival, the EdiPlay International Film Festival in Paris, France and was the winner of “Best Documentary Short” at the Urban Media Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.

Recently, a number of universities have been showcasing the project along with “The Example,” as part of “Beaumont’s Black History - In Moving Pictures” presentation. Stephen F. Austin State University, Prairie View A&M University and Sam Houston State University all opened their doors for the history of Beaumont’s Black history to be screened and talked about.

they-will-talk-about-us-premiere.jpgGordon Williams, LUTV Station Operations Manager, writer and director of the documentary, has had a busy year since the premiere. A year later, he took time to think back on that night and the way things have been since.

“A year after the premiere of ‘They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story,’ I look back on this time and feel it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions,” said Williams. “The cast and crew, the majority being from the Department of Communication and Media, have created content that has brought joy to descendants of the Charlton-Pollard neighborhood and has garnered recognition internationally.”

Williams’ comment speaks to his character and his mindset over the course of the year. His motivation is twofold as he seeks to tell the untold stories of Beaumont’s Black history while providing an opportunity to students to learn, work and grow.

Tiana Johnson, a former corporate communications major and current Digital Content Editor at 12NewsNow, worked with Williams on the project and interviewed historians and members of the Charlton-Pollard community.

“At the time and still today, working on the set felt like a great honor and opportunity,” said Johnson. “I cannot explain how excited I was when Gordon brought it up. I feel as if I gained a lot of experience and was able to watch Gordon’s producing and storytelling mind at work. I learned a lot from him and from everyone else. I realized what all goes into making any type of film.”

When asked about the success of the project, Johnson said that it means a lot to her while being optimistic about the the impact of it on the community.

“I believe it is bringing pride back to Beaumont,” she said. “Too often I hear people say they are ready to leave Beaumont, and I truly do believe it is because they aren’t proud of where they come from, but there is so much to be proud of. Hopefully, this will change that mindset.”

Then, Johnson asked a significant question: “How can you expect others to be proud of a history they didn’t even know existed?”

The answer to that question is what makes “They Will Talk About Us: The Charlton-Pollard Story” so significant. It is the untold story of Beaumont’s Black history and heritage.

Now, one year later, the story is being told all across the world, and there is pride that comes with it.

One year later, they are talking about them.

To learn more about LUTV and the Department of Communication & Media, visit