“First Lady of the Revolution”, a documentary film featuring Birmingham native, Henrietta Boggs, will soon be premiered by Spark Media, Inc. Are you ready for the Revolution?
Henrietta Boggs, American author, journalist and activist was born near 100 years ago in 1918 in Spartanburg, SC. In 1923, she moved with her family to Birmingham, where her father had a construction business. It was in Birmingham that Henrietta spent her childhood and young adult life as a Southern Belle.
After completing high school, Henrietta attended Birmingham-Southern College. With her passion of writing, Henrietta decided to study English at BSC and was also a reporter for the college’s newspaper.
“The college opened my eyes to so many things,” said Henrietta in a piece written by Birmingham Southern College. “My leap from high school was to wider horizons since there were so few people from overseas in Birmingham at that time. My mother was very accepting of foreigners; she had traveled abroad and spoke four languages. Being on campus opened me up further to the global world we inhabit.”
Though Henrietta left BSC and migrated to Costa Rica without a diploma, she went onto achieve great prominence in a time of great change and unrest in a foreign country.
“I was just an average person who got tossed into an extraordinary situation,” said Henrietta. “But I wanted to demonstrate that a first lady can do more than serve tea and cupcakes. That’s what I wanted to be remembered for.”
In May 2017, Birmingham-Southern College awarded Henrietta with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree acknowledging her lifelong promotion of social change and equality.
More than a Southern Belle
Though Henrietta may have grown up in the South in Birmingham, which coined her as a Southern Belle throughout her life, Henrietta wanted more than the conservative state of Alabama could offer.
Henrietta says in the films:
“Anybody strange. Anybody different. Anybody who was not a white southern Presbyterian let me have them!”
In 1940, Henrietta Boggs got her wish.
At 22 years old and a junior at Birmingham-Southern, Henrietta traveled to Costa Rica to visit her aunt and uncle. During her visit, she met and fell in love with Jose Figueres, a coffee farmer who would go on to lead the democratic revolution against the corrupt power structure.
Henrietta married Figueres in 1941 and spent two years with him in exile in Mexico and El Salvador. After the disputed presidential election of 1948 led to civil war, Figueres led the rebel army to victory and became president of the temporary junta.
Film director and senior producer of “First Lady of the Revolution”, Andrea Kalin (Andrea is also founder and principal of Spark Media), was inspired to create the film when meeting Henrietta in Washington, D.C. five years ago.
“Many Latin American countries have experienced upheavals and revolutions, but nothing like the sweeping changes that resulted from Costa Rica’s civil war,” said Kalin. “Henrietta was an important part of that transformation and contributed in a vital way to the democratically vibrant Costa Rica we all know today.”
A Southern Belle’s Return to the South
Henrietta returned to Alabama in 1960. During this time she married Dr. Hugh MacGuire, co-founded the magazine River Region Living (which she still writes for to this day) and published her memoir in 1992 about her years in Costa Rica, Married to a Legend: My Life with Don Pepe.
A Celebration of Women’s History Month
In honor of Women’s History Month, “First Lady of the Revolution” will be celebrated on March 6, 2018 at 6pm at the GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C. The event will include a special performance by the Iniciative Folclorica Costarricense and a post-screening discussion with the First Lady herself, Henrietta Boggs!
Spark Media will also be broadcasting the film on March 25 at 9a.m. on Reel South SEason 3 on WORLD Channel.
“We hope Henrietta’s story ignites conversations that are ripe with actionable takeaways about what each of us can do to continue to fight inequality,” said James Mirabello, production manager at Spark Media. “And to reflect on and remember the many women whose voices go unheard and who continue to be excluded from reaching their full potential.”
Here is a sneak peek of the film, “First Lady of the Revolution”.