Folkes ’78 Presents “The Ginny Battle Story”

“Gentle” George Folkes ’78, has found his calling, and it only took an 87-year-old woman and John F. Kennedy to lead him there.

Folkes is a filmmaker, and his first documentary – “The Ginny Battle Story” – tells the story of Virginia “Ginny” Battle, a former Kennedy staff member.

According to Folkes, Kennedy was approached by one of his dear friends, Harold Vaughan, in 1954. Vaughn worked with the Boston powerbrokers and had become one of Kennedy’s allies. Vaughn reminded JFK that he didn’t have anyone Black on his staff.  JFK told Vaughan to bring him somebody.

Vaughan talked to his wife, and she suggested Ginny Battle. Ginny never went to college, but she went to Boston Clerical School and studied secretarial work during a time in the ’50s when secretarial jobs were reserved for white women.

Battle got along with Kennedy well, and her career took off. Battle was the first black person hired to work for a congressman in New England. She was with JFK from 1954 until his death in November of 1963.

On June 10, 1963, the night Medgar Evers was killed, JFK appeared on television and asked the nation to stand up and do what’s right. Battle was proof that Kennedy was practicing what he preached.

When he became president, Battle was the first person to be on the White House staff for the democrats. She was a trailblazer, marking many other firsts as well until she retired in 1972.

“She’s a remarkable woman, a class act, and a model of what it means to handle your business professionally and personally,” Folkes says proudly. He’s partially referring to the fact that at age 92, Battle is now celebrating 69 years of marriage.

“Their youngest son, Glenn Battle, graduated with me from Morehouse in ’78. Ginny’s husband came to me years ago and said that he thought Ginny would let me tell her story.”

Folkes went to see Battle in D.C. in 2009. She was a little skeptical about what was going on, so he set up his camera and talked with her for a while. Afterward, he showed her what he’d shot. She was pleased and allowed him to continue. “I flew to D.C. to film. I flew to Boston to film.  I took care of my mother who was the same age as the Battles while I was doing all of this,” Folkes recalls. “It’s been a six-year journey, but I am now sold on my life’s purpose to be a documentary filmmaker until the day I die.”

Folkes’ company, Gentle Drop Films, has four goals, as told in his words below:

  1. To create documentaries for the Black community first and then for the world. I belief in self-love first. We have beautiful stories.
  2. To take unsung achievement and put it on film. I hope people see this film and bring me more stories than I can handle.
  3. To produce films about individual families to preserve their legacies. Through this effort, I could employ young filmmakers to go get the footage and train people to have a prosperous career in filmmaking.
  4. Entertain and teach through cinema art, so that filmmakers can create the kind of information that needs to be seen.
Check out the next issue of the Morehouse Alumni Newsletter, and here on the blog, for part two of this story, including information on how you can host a showing of The Ginny Battle Story, how Gentle Drop Films got its name, and what Morehouse College was like for creatives like Folkes at the dawn of the 1970s.
To learn more in the meantime, contact Folkes at  678-913-4582 or

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