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Student film depicts neglected Texas leader

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:23 pm

The members of a student historical society at Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) debut a film Friday on the life and historical role of Senator Morris Sheppard from Texarkana, the author of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which authorized prohibition in 1918.

The “Father of Prohibition” was born in Naples and was a U.S. Senator from 1913 to 1941. The film – “Modern Icarus: The Story of Morris Sheppard” - shows how Sheppard became the most influential – and now most forgotten – son of Northeast Texas.

The fifty-minute movie is being shown starting at noon Friday in the community room of the library. It will later be posted on YouTube.

Dr. Andrew Yox is advisor to NTCC’s Walter Prescott Webb Society, which is devoted to increasing awareness of our Texas historical heritage. The student group is affiliated with the Texas State Historical Association.

The group received a $600 gift and traveled to the Briscoe center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin to research the life of Sheppard, said Yox. The researchers who traveled to the Briscoe Center included  Andrew Austin, Julia McCurry, Aaron Screws, Bonnie Spencer, and Andrew Yox

Members of the Webb Society researched, wrote, directed, and produced the film. The film - directed by Andrew Austin - chronicles one of the most ambitious and unprecedented moral reforms in history – to outlaw the sale and manufacture of alcohol in a major Western nation.

Professor Yox said the story of Sen. Sheppard is an eye-opener because Sheppard led the coalition that ultimately enacted Prohibition, but today he is usually relegated to barely a mention in history books.

The premiere marks the 100th anniversary of Sheppard’s push in the Senate to obtain a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol in the United States. Three great nieces of the senator will be in attendance at the premiere Friday.

The movie was mostly filmed in Jefferson. All the roles are played by members of the Webb Society or NTCC honors students.

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