The Exchange. In White America. Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later

Same country. Different America.
In turbulent racial times, a controversial play brought Black and white high school students together for an exercise in race relations. It happened in 1966 in the Civil Rights era and 50 years later, it happened again in the era of Black Lives Matter.

  • Joanne Williams, Tess Bergeson-Gallun
  • Joanne Williams, Gary Reistad, Kathleen Tank
  • Joanne Williams
  • Allen Kemp, Linda Plutchak, Phyllis Lawhorn, Joe McCarty
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    177,071 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • None yet
Director Biography - Joanne Williams, Tess Bergeson-Gallun

Joanne Williams

Her career began in high school when she hosted the teen talk show on Milwaukee’s WAWA Radio. Two weeks after graduating with honors in film from Northwestern, she started working for WTMJ TV. In 1973, Joanne and Pete Wilson started The Morning Scene – the first 30-minute, early morning TV newscast in Milwaukee.
That was followed by several years at WGN in Chicago as a reporter, writer and part-time weathercaster.
She returned as WITI’s Community Relations Director in 1978, producing many projects, including “The Disabled Are Able”, which was nominated for a daytime Emmy. In 1982, Joanne returned to the WITI newsroom and wore many hats as reporter, anchor and producer during her tenure. Over the years, Joanne hosted live call-in programs, town hall meetings, and participated in thousands of community events on behalf of FOX6.
Today, she is the host and segment producer for Milwaukee Public Television's "Black Nouveau" which won a regional EMMY in 2018. She has won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2012 and won the Bronze award from the Milwaukee Press Club for Best Documentary or new special for the program "Harry Kemp: The Photography Man".
Joanne was a regional director on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists, a founding member of the Wisconsin Black Media Association, past president of the Milwaukee Press Club and has served on many boards and committees of agencies in Milwaukee. She is a member of the Milwaukee Press Club Hall of Fame. and a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle honoree in 2009. In 2014 the Milwaukee Business Journal honored her as a Woman of Influence for her inspiration to others.
In her “retirement” Joanne has worked with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and has become associated with Milwaukee Film as an independent documentary filmmaker, currently producing, writing and directing “ The Exchange. In White America. Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later”.

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Director Statement

Through interviews and research of the era, we will tell the story of a special student exchange aimed at racial understanding that made a difference in the lives of 13 high school students and the families and people around them in 1966, and opened the eyes of audiences when the play was revived, 50 years later.
The students, White and Black performed the controversial play "In White America" and now, because of the film, the play has been revived with a multi-ethnic cast in Milwaukee and performed in front of a White audience in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, the location of the original exchange.
The impact this exchange had on the students who were 16 and 17 years old at the time and how it changed their lives and how it could change the lives of students today, is a story worth exploring.