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Branch Documentary to Be Shown at All Campuses
February 2, 2023

Walters State Community College will host four showings of “An Extraordinary Man: Dr. Dennis Branch of Newport Tennessee.” The film was produced by the late Dr. Marc McClure, a history professor at the college. 
Branch, a Black physician in Cocke County, developed a legion of loyal patients and national recognition for providing medical care in the small, rugged Appalachian county.  
The film will be shown:
• Sevier County Campus, CAPE-130, Feb. 16, 2:20 p.m.
• Morristown Lyceum, Dr Wade McCamey Students Services Building, Feb. 16, 11:15 a.m. This showing is sponsored by the Morristown Diversity Task Force. 
• Niswonger Campus in Greeneville, Room 142, Feb. 23, 9:35 a.m.
• Claiborne County Campus Auditorium, Feb. 23, 2 p.m.
The film premiered in 2019. McClure had learned of Branch while researching his acclaimed film about Kiffin Rockwell, a Cocke County native who fought with the French Foreign Legion before the United States entered World War I.
McClure said he was touched by the love and loyalty the small town felt for the doctor. McClure said that Branch took care of anyone in need and breaking racial barriers was the natural outcome of how he lived his life. 
Branch came to Newport to practice medicine despite being warned of the prejudices held by many in East Tennessee. McClure said that Branch thought his services were needed in the area. When he first arrived, he joined missionaries who were traveling to see people living in the mountains. At that time, roads were few and most people living in the mountains around Cocke and Sevier counties did not have running water or electricity.
Branch became somewhat of a celebrity. He was featured on the cover of “Ebony” magazine and was the subject of an episode of Ralph Edwards’ television show, “This is Your Life” in 1958.
McClure felt that the use of the television footage was key to the film, but the licensing rights limited the number of times the film could be shown. Following McClure’s sudden death in 2021, his wife, Jessica McClure has worked with Ralph Edwards Productions to permanently secure the rights. She was able to do this with financial assistance from Bill Shults, Judge Dennis Inman and Garry Brooks. 
“The footage from ‘This is Your Life’ is an important part of the film,” Jessica McClure said. “The show shares details of Dr. Branch’s life and shows that he gained national prominence.”
The footage segment is about 11 minutes of the 80-minute film. The showings are free and everyone is welcome.
The film will also be shown on East Tennessee PBS at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 15. 

In the photo: The late Dr. Marc McClure, history professor and acclaimed documentary producer, in his office in 2020. On his computer is a photo of the late Dr. Dennis Branch. Branch was the subject of a McClure documentary which will show on all Walters State campuses as part of the college’s celebration of Black History Month.