The Clarence Garrett Story
Documenting a Remarkable Milwaukeean
Clarence Garrett has been an inspiration for his family, friends and community. The Milwaukee resident is an African American who began his military service during World War II in the segregated army, became a warrant officer and worked in civilian life as a mechanic. But what’s remarkable about Garrett is his decision, at age 85, to reclaim the scattered college credits he had earned years before and enroll at UW-Milwaukee with a BA in mind.
Garrett is the subject of Clarence, a documentary by Milwaukee filmmaker Kristin Catalano. In her study of can-do determination, Catalono discretely follows Garrett as he bravely steps into the strange new world of 21st century college life. He masters the online library catalog, becomes a leader in class discussions and a favorite among students and faculty. Never having touched a computer, he enrolls in a class and learns the basics. Even an ulcerated leg infection barely slows him down. He checks into a hospital with his textbooks and emerges with more energy than ever. Garrett ends semester one with As and Bs.
Catalano cleverly uses a medical appointment in the opening scene as a way of introducing much of Garrett’s back story as her subject responds to a physician’s battery of questions.
Clarence will be screened at Madison’s Sundance Cinema as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival, 7 p.m., April 15 and 1 p.m., April 16. Catalano will discuss the movie on April 7 during the Today’s TMJ 4 show “The Morning Blend.”