The Collegian
Monday, November 28, 2022

Cora Tucker: A legacy untold, until now

<p>The creators of the film organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the production. Names of donors have been covered.</p>

The creators of the film organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the production. Names of donors have been covered.

Cora Lee Mosley Tucker was the first Black woman to run for governor in Virginia and on Sept. 13, University of Richmond community was able to watch the premiere of “On the Battlefield,” a film honoring the legacy she left behind. 

The film gives a detailed look into Tucker’s life and accomplishments as a civil rights activist. Environmental studies professor Ladelle McWhorter organized the event. 

“People use the word amazing too loosely today, but I was amazed,” McWhorter said.

The film highlights Tucker who was born and raised in Halifax, Virginia. As a child, Tucker worked alongside her mother and nine other siblings in tobacco sharecropping after her father passed away when she was three. She worked there until she married a farmer, Clarence Tucker, and made her own family of seven kids. 

Alongside her duty to motherhood, Tucker quickly became involved in the civil rights movement as it took off in the 1960s. This marked the beginning of her endless efforts to fight against racism, classism and environmental injustices as she sought to understand how these three aspects intersected and impacted her, as well as her community in Halifax. 

However, Tucker’s initiatives were not limited to Halifax as her perseverance and unwavering determination took her as far as the White House to meet with President Jimmy Carter and many other significant Black advocates. She founded an organization called Citizens for a Better America, where she continued to write letters to legislators and politicians locally and nationally. 

McWhorter emphasized the importance of the film premier for her students and the campus as well. 

“It seems important for both the university itself and the community of Richmond for there to be more, more interaction and more, more use of the campus by people in the community,” McWhorter said. 

McWhorter is also interested in supporting local filmmakers and stories that are important and relevant to the Virginia region, she said.

Students who attended the viewing of the film in the Humanities Hall had similar things to say. Senior Megan Salters, even before seeing the premier, said it “needed to be made.” As a filmmaker and environmentalist herself, Salters was inspired by the film and Tucker and hopes that the film can cause ripple effects, she said.

“Cora was just such an enigma, you know, such a spirit and a person who everyone in the community could go to and somehow balanced work and family life and being such a strong activist in our community,” Salters said.

Sophomore Paean Luby said seeing Tucker lead these initiatives for things she cared about and things that would benefit the community instilled a fire in her.

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Tucker's willingness to continue her fight against the injustices around her despite challenges and pushback was really refreshing, Luby said. As a leader of Girls Who Code – an organization aimed at closing the gender gap in STEM fields – Luby was able to gauge some understanding of the sacrifices Tucker endured to fight for a cause bigger than herself, and it only inspired her to go harder in the work she can do in Richmond, she said.

The film creators consist of a team of three, two of which are Tucker’s relatives: Ebony Guy, Timothy Stovall and film producer Michel Grey, who is a family friend.

The film is not set to release until next year, as it is being entered into multiple film competitions and is in the works of marketing deals now, according to Grey and her team. However, the UR community can still support the film through the GoFundMe page organized by film creators and stay updated on the film's progress and see the official teaser for the film “On the Battlefield.”

Contact lifestyle writer Genice Thomas at genice.thomas@richmond.edu.

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