NTCC Webb Society presents new film about Wright Patman
Charles Shafer, in his memoir of life in Northeast Texas, noted that when he was young, Congressman Wright Patman seemed to speak to local residents with the voice of God—and he “appeared about as old.” Patman represented Northeast Texas in Washington D.C. from 1929 to 1976, and is commemorated today by the Bowie and Cass County lake that bears his name.
But what did his life and tenure say about our region? What kind of man was he? This is a question that the Northeast Texas Community College Webb Society has sought to answer in a new film about Wright Patman’s life. The group will host a premiere of their film on Friday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. the Mount Pleasant Public Library (601 North Madison in Mount Pleasant). The public is invited for a free presentation of the 50-minute film, for the panel discussion that will follow the film, and a free dessert that will be served afterwards. The film was researched, written, directed, and produced by members of NTCC’s Webb Society, in conjunction with NTCC Honors. A Whatley Enhancement Grant and Friends of NTCC Honors made the film possible.
Presidential Scholar, Noah Griffin of Pittsburg, stars in the film as Wright Patman. Presidential Scholars Alisha Richardson, and Lauren Fennimore play the roles of Patman’s two wives, Merle and Pauline. Presidential Scholars Tyler Reynolds and Matthew Jordan produced the film. Elizabeth Griffin served as the Director of Makeup. Presidential Scholar Ricky Huitema appears as President Lyndon Johnson.
Presidential Scholar, Kayleah Cumpian, who researched the life of Patman, and who presented some of her work at the State Webb Society meeting in Victoria earlier this fall, will provide some commentary on the panel following the film, along with other members of the cast. Cumpian argues that Patman was an authentic populist, whose experience with destitution propelled him to support the causes of rural America, and the rural poor throughout his career.
Dr. Andrew Yox, NTCC Honors Director, notes that the significance of Patman’s life for our region has never been sorted out, and that his story highlights an amazing fact: “for 50 years, our region supported a maverick Congressman who today is cited with approval both by Libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, and by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Historians need to revise their assessment of populism, and re-examine areas like Northeast Texas, which supported two major populist figures—Cyclone Davis, and Wright Patman.”
The Webb Society of NTCC was able to complete the project thanks to a Whatley Enhancement Grant, the Friends of NTCC Honors, NTCC administrative support, and Dr. Chuck Hamilton who brought filming experience, mentoring in camera work, and a professional camcorder-boom-mike rig to the enterprise. The film was also made possible by the singing of the Northeast Texas Soundtrack Chorus, which included Haley Burks, Lauren Fennimore, Christina Kessler Emily Peacock, Joshua Yox, Paul Yox, Philip Yox, and Rebecca Yox, the willingness of Jefferson B and Bs—the Benefield House, the Hale House, and the White Oak Manor, who allowed filming on their premises, the Honorable Brian Lee who allowed filming in the Titus County Courthouse, and Missy McCord, who facilitated filming at Patman’s home church in Hughes Springs, what is today the Turkey Creek Baptist church.