Director: Fern Levitt
Location: Nova Scotia
Director Fern Levitt, in her inspirational film, 'Captain of Souls', tells the story of Reverend William White. Born into deeply segregated Virginia in 1874, the son of two former slaves who managed to buy their freedom, William White as a child wanted to be the richest Black man in the United States. During a walk by himself in the woods one day, he suddenly realized that his destiny was not the accumulation of material wealth, but spiritual wealth. He knew that he was to become a preacher.
He applied and was accepted in Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He was the second Black man to study there. White broke down racial barriers, through his participation in sports, excelling to become one of the all-time great athletes at Acadia. He graduated with an Art's degree in Theology, and was ordained a Minister in 1903. William White was determined to preach to his congregation that God created all men equal, that Blacks were not put on the earth to be slaves to the Whites. He worked towards knocking down racial barriers in the arena of employment, at the segregated theatres, buses and schools.
During World War I, Blacks were not allowed to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Whites, so they started their own regiment, The 2nd Construction Battalion of Nova Scotia. White served as the pastor. He was the only Black officer in the British Army. Despite the horrors of the killing fields of France, Rev. White continued to preach racial tolerance and a message of inspiration. After the war, he was given his own church, the Second Baptist Church of New Glasgow, and invited to provide a monthly radio broadcast, heard across Canada and northern United States. White's sermons succeeded in preaching a message of hope and unity - that people had a destiny and no matter what it was, as long as they had a vision to pursue that destiny, they were a success.
Captain Rev. William White died in September, 1936, of cancer. Shortly before his untimely death, Rev. White received a Doctorate in Theology, the first Black in Canada to receive such an honour. A lot of the racial barriers in Canada had started to tumble. Rev. White's death affected Blacks and Whites alike, as they stood in front of the Baptist church to pay tribute to one man, who had added so richly to the tapestry known as Canada.