The Better Hour: A Documentary Film: THE BETTER HOUR: The Legacy of William Wilberforce
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The Better Hour Documentary Film

The Story of the Film

The Wilberforce Project, a division of Essentials In Education, is in post-production of a television documentary being prepared for public television in early 2008. The documentary explores the 20-year effort of William Wilberforce to lead the abolition of the British slave trade -- a business that was key to the country’s economic strength. Wilberforce and his Clapham colleagues brilliantly executed this enormous task. They managed to shape opinion without the help of mass communication technology.

The goal of the documentary is to focus on how strength of character is harnessed in the service of high and seemingly unattainable goals for society. Character and community join together to bring into the world what the English poet William Cowper described as "the better hour." The documentary highlights William Wilberforce's drive and love for humanity and reveals how he and his colleagues took up the cause of abolition of the slave trade at a time when the British economy depended upon slavery.

Wilberforce's compassion, self-discipline, and respect for others offer lessons for a contemporary audience on how to change the world for the better -- peacefully and definitively. In the world of politics--with so few heroes today-- William Wilberforce’s political career is a case study that not only merits attention, but can inspire others to see the potential for great good in a political life which is built on strength of character rather than expediency.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that “every school boy” in America knew the great character of William Wilberforce. Yet today the man and his legacy is virtually unknown today in the United States. The emancipation leader Frederick Douglass saluted the energy of Wilberforce “that finally thawed the British heart into sympathy for the slave, and moved the strong arm of government in mercy to put an end to this bondage. Let no American, especially no colored American, withhold generous recognition of this stupendous achievement -- a triumph of right over wrong, of good over evil, and a victory for the whole human race.”

History of Wilberforce’s 69 Philanthropic Initiatives

Wilberforce was associated with 69 societies, what we would call non-profit public service organizations--Wilberforce was Vice President of 29, on the Committee of 5, Governor of 5, Treasure of 1 and Patron of 1. Click here for a full list of these societies.

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