He wasn’t born here, but he got here as fast as he could. That was 38 years ago, and Harry Eaddy’s passion for others has made a definitive mark on Denton.
Harry is Chair of the Denton Black Film Festival (DBFF) that debuted at the Campus Theatre last January. His was the lead among several great imaginations that birthed the new event which benefits the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation (DAASF).
Harry and his wife Linda adore Denton’s arts scene. They frequent exhibits at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center (PAAC), at UNT on the Square and even at one of the universities now and then. They are among the Denton festival faithful and cite an evening wandering the square as one of their favorite outings. The Eaddys are true Dentonites.
As much as Denton touts its original, independent spirit fueled by diversity, the absence of diversity in many of the places they like to go confounded the Eaddys over the years. More recently, they’ve become zealous about encouraging Denton’s black community to get more deeply involved in Denton’s creative scene, as both artists and patrons. This passion is, at least in part, one of the ideals behind the DBBF’s creation. But to tell the DBFF story, one must start at the beginning, more than 30 years ago, when in 1984, the Denton Branch NAACP (DB NAACP) awarded their first $250 scholarship to make college a reality for a Denton ISD senior of African American descent.
To manage details of the new scholarship, the DB NAACP organized a scholarship committee tasked with recruiting sponsors, developing criteria, reviewing applications and recommending scholarship award recipients. Then in 1989, the DB NAACP ramped up its fund-raising efforts by incorporating the scholarship committee as a separate 501c(3) entity. Headed by former mayor Euline Brock (mayor 2000-06), the newly named Denton African American Scholarship Foundation’s (DAASF) focus was to create a perpetual stream of college cash to invest in eligible students. The ultimate goal? Well-equipped young African Americans ready to lead in an emerging global society.
Fast forward to 2009 when Euline Brock recruited Harry Eaddy as Chairman of the Foundation. Under his leadership, awareness about the DAASF has edged into Denton consciousness. The entire, diverse Denton community is invited to galas, Mardi Gras parties and fancy Valentine’s Day balls that raise scholarship money. Harry also turned up regional media attention by ensuring that scholarship award-winners are grandly celebrated.
Harry and DAASF board members are all volunteers passionate about education, deeply committed to giving students a leg-up, a solid chance to succeed. And they are doing so by investing more than $250,000 over the years in Denton ISD African American youth, many of whom are the first college-bound generation in their families. These young people have gone on to America’s finest universities becoming accomplished business people, doctors, lawyers, and leaders.
Harry and Linda’s penchant for the arts was the springboard to the DBFF, an event that bridged their passion points. It draws artists and patrons from the black community to engage with diverse art and film buffs in Denton and beyond while simultaneously raising DAASF scholarship money. In its inaugural year last January, the film festival yielded a $12,000 profit, every penny of which went to scholarships. In 2015, the DAASF awarded $18,000 among 11 students representing the three Denton public high schools.
The DBFF is for all audiences, young and old, black and white. Besides raising scholarship funds, the festival’s mission, according to DentonBFF.com is, “to showcase films that entertain, educate, inspire, and communicate Black American cultural themes to the broader community as expressed through movies and art that reflect cultural mindset and changes through several generations of film-making.” With leaders like Harry at the helm, the DBFF is doing exactly that.
The DBFF is January 29-31, 2016. All films will screen at the Campus Theatre, but related events are going on all month. An art exhibit featuring the work of UNT professor Annette Lawrence opened January 7th at UNT on the Square. A January 23rd pre-festival at the PAAC will feature multiple art forms and music all day. Then during the festival weekend, watch for Spoken Word events at the Point Bank Black Box Theatre, a Gospel Brunch and the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to acclaimed actress Irma P. Hall.
Now you know the man behind the DBFF curtain. Harry Eaddy arrived in Denton nearly four decades ago with a dream. We’re realizing it with him, watching it change lives and build a legacy that will reach far into Denton’s future.
Body Images courtesy of Will McQueen.