New National Geographic Series Puts August Events Under the Microscope
People in Charlottesville are getting to see the events that took place last summer through a different lens.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - People in Charlottesville are getting to see the events that took place last summer through a different lens.
Journalist and University of Virginia graduate Katie Couric screened the first episode of her new TV series at the Paramount Theater on Wednesday, April 4. The series, entitled “America Inside Out,” looks back at what happened here on August 11 and 12.
Couric says she came back here to Charlottesville to understand the Robert E. Lee statue controversy, but ended up learning more about deep-seated issues not only here but nationwide.
“I had no idea that it was going to explode,” says Couric.
The University of Virginia was home to Couric for four years as an undergrad. But it was also the place where white nationalists marched with tiki torches on the night of August 11.
“It was horrific to see such a disgusting display on the Lawn of the University of Virginia,” says Couric.
Couric was in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12 trying to understand the battle over the Robert E. Lee statue that sits in Emancipation Park right by the Downtown Mall.
“Really what had been an underground movement of sorts was rising to the surface,” says Couric.
That fight over removing Confederate monuments is what sparked episode one, “Re-Righting History,” of Couric’s new series.
“Little did we know that what happened on August 12 would make national and international headlines, take the life of a young woman, and change Charlottesville forever,” says Couric.
In the pilot episode, Couric interviews Charlottesville activist Don Gathers.
“It pulls back the sheet, if you will, it reveals the wizard, it talks about the oppressive history of our country and of our city and it tells people exactly where we stand,” says Gathers.
Couric also spoke with Charlottesville High School student Zyahna Bryant, who was part of the panel after the screening.
Bryant wrote the original petition back in 2016 to remove the Lee statue from the park.
“The people who stood with me on this issue, we were trying to uncover the pretty, painted, Thomas Jefferson-loving city picture that we have for Charlottesville,” says Bryant.
Overall, Couric says “America Inside Out” isn't just about one city – it’s about the national conversation on race relations.
“The people of Charlottesville really came together and stood up to this kind of hate,” says Couric. “It matters to me a lot that I have done this story justice.”
“America Inside Out” is a six-part series that will air on National Geographic, with the first episode debuting on Wednesday, April 11.