Filmmaker examines life of civil rights pioneer

BYRON RUMFORD CHAMPIONED LANDMARK STATE LEGISLATION

Doug Harris has been making socially conscious films for 20 years. He perfected his media skills by earning a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at CSU Monterey Bay in 1998.

His latest project is an hour-long documentary, Fair Legislation: The Byron Rumford Story, about Northern California’s first African American member of the state Assembly and, according to Harris, a forgotten pioneer of the civil rights movement.

Doug Harris

Doug Harris

During his 18-year tenure in the legislature, Rumford’s political advocacy predated the national civil rights movement. He was instrumental in passing the Fair Employment Act of 1959, and the landmark Rumford Fair Housing Act in 1963. They are among the most important state laws for African Americans and all people of color.

The film is targeted for completion this year. It will be premiered at events in the Bay Area and Sacramento and shown on PBS. View the trailer. At CSUMB, Harris combined classes in physical education and Teledramatic Arts and Technology to earn his master’s degree. It allowed him to further his principal passions: helping young people succeed through athletics and producing documentary films of value to the community. The same year he enrolled at CSUMB, he established the Digital Technology Academy through Athletes United for Peace, an Oakland non-profit organization. He served as the executive director of AUP from 1995 through 2009 and has held a variety of media-related positions with government agencies and nonprofits.

Byron Rumford

Byron Rumford

In 2010, Harris was named a "CSU Outstanding Alumni," a list compiled in conjunction with the system's Super Sunday initiative to encourage African American youth to go to college.

Other documentaries by Harris include:

  • Basketball Guru: The Pete Newell Story, which chronicles the life of a man who possessed a brilliant mind for teaching and coaching basketball. Teams he coached won the NIT and NCAA championships and a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.
  • Bounce: The Don Barksdale Story, which grew out of Harris’ CSUMB capstone. He described Barksdale as "kind of like the Jackie Robinson of basketball."
  • Out: The Glenn Burke Story, a critically acclaimed documentary about Major League Baseball’s first openly gay player. It was nominated for an Emmy Award for best documentary in 2010.
  • Tournament of Champions, which chronicles the 33-year history of one of the country’s most famous high school basketball tournaments
  • Basketball in the Barrio, the story of a youth sports camp held each summer in El Paso, Texas. The documentary was named "Most Inspirational Film" at the 2008 U.S. Sports Film Festival.