“I’ve always thought as I was growing up, the worst thing a man can do is nothing,” says James Armstrong. At 85 years old, this self-identified foot soldier of the Civil Rights Movement hasn’t spent much time doing nothing. Looking back in 2009, as Barack Obama is about to be inaugurated, Armstrong proudly directs your look at the photos and newspaper clippings that fill up every inch of space on the walls of his barbershop. “I got a lot of pictures of everybody that was doing something,” he says. And so you see, as the camera in Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday’s documentary The Barber of Birmingham pans to show pioneers ranging from Jackie Robinson to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Barack Obama. Premiering on the terrific series POV’s Short Cuts on 9 August, the film tells a story of inexorable progress and work to be done, of the slow, hard fight to secure the right to vote.