When I Get Grown—Reflections of a Freedom Rider

Trauma experienced by a seven-year-old sets him on a course to become a civil rights legend and change the course of a nation.

  • Chris Preitauer
  • Clayborne Carson
    Eyes On the Prize
  • Chris Preitauer
  • Bernard LaFayette
    Key Cast
  • Chris Preitauer
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Documentary, History
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 24, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Harlem International Film Festival
    Harlem, New York
    United States
    May 13, 2022
    World Premiere
    Best Short Documentary
  • Roxbury International Film Festival
    Boston, Massachusetts
    United States
    July 14, 2022
    Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking
  • Coronado Island Film Festival
    Coronado, CA
    United States
    November 17, 2022
    Best Documentary Short
  • Coronado Island Film Festival
    United States
    November 17, 2022
    Audience Award
  • NewsFest Film Festival
    Pasadena, CA
    United States
    November 18, 2022
    Most Inspiring (USA)
Director Biography - Chris Preitauer

When I was seven years old, I moved to El Cajon, California, a small city in San Diego’s east county. In those days, east county was almost exclusively white. My next door neighbors, however, were an elderly black couple who were greeted with a burning cross on their front lawn when they moved to our neighborhood on Cuyamaca Street. Living in El Cajon and having virtually no friends or acquaintances of color ensured that I was oblivious to the racial realities of the world around me.

As a teenager, I watched Henry Hampton’s award-winning “Eyes On the Prize” documentary series about the Civil Rights Movement on PBS. The impact of this documentary on my life cannot be overstated. This cultural curiosity sparked by public media would continue. Challenged by San Diego community organizer Robert Tambuzi that my understanding of people of color was “all book knowledge with no experience”, I moved from El Cajon to an apartment in Lemon Grove with two African-American roommates. I quit my job and accepted a position as the only white male employee at an organization located in the southeastern region of San Diego. Later, I switched my church membership to a virtually all-Black congregation in the 3rd District which I became actively involved with and attended for 10 years. Of course, all of this “cultural transplantation” included the much-anticipated growing pains that come with having been raised in an oblivious all-white environment.

Another highlight along this journey was being asked by Dr. Clayborne Carson to join him in furthering the legacy of Dr. King and other human rights leaders through my work as a visual storyteller. Dr. Clayborne Carson was asked by Coretta Scott King in 1985 to edit and publish the papers of her late husband. Dr. Carson founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University for that purpose. Today, he continues to further the legacy through the newly-founded World House Project. Our video collaborations continue to be used in Stanford coursework today.

Committed to the story,

Chris Preitauer

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