Directed by Barbara Connell and Bill Jersey • 1966 • United States
With extraordinary access and unflinching frankness, this remarkable, underseen documentary offers an X-ray of the soul of a divided America working through the social shockwaves of the civil rights movement. The film chronicles the struggles of Rev. L. William Youngdahl, pastor of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, as he tries to persuade members of his all-white congregation to reach out to their Black neighbors in an attempt to right some of the wrongs of systemic racism. A TIME FOR BURNING captures both the resistance of the white churchgoers, who speak candidly about their fears of integration, and the incisive perspectives of the Black residents (including firebrand activist and future state senator Ernie Chambers) who see through the hypocrisy of the church.