It’s not often that a class inspired by a miniseries gets the chance to have a group discussion with the series’ screenwriter, but that is exactly the unique opportunity experienced by Zora Salisbury’s class, Show Me a Hero. The course, part of the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame, centers around the political, social and racial issues in the 1960s that tore a town apart, leaving the community significantly impacted by the events that followed.
Journalist and screenwriter William Zorzi immediately dove into the topic at hand: Show Me a Hero’s message. The series looks at the life of a young politician who must build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town during the 1960s. Zorzi spoke about how the building projects tore the city apart with objections causing demonstrations and even death threats.
Today, Zorzi says the projects are largely cleaned up with reduced levels of drugs and crime, but it’s still not a good place to live or raise a family. He points to the real heroes—the women who lived in the public housing projects and continually fought to make a difference in the community—as those responsible for the progress.
For our Renaissance Institute students, it was a morning filled with engaging conversation, new insights, and rich discussion of issues that not only happened over 50 years ago, but persist to this day and continue to impact communities throughout our country.