Mac Boles was born in Presbyterian Hospital on Walnut Hill Lane and grew up on White Rock Trail riding bikes and going to block parties with the neighbors. He went to White Rock Elementary and Lake Highlands Junior High and graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 2010 with the “best senior class ever.” If it had something to do with Lake Highlands, the Boles family was always somehow involved. Boles sang a cappella and captained the varsity tennis team his senior year. He earned his Eagle Scout in Troop 890 and completed his Eagle project doing a facelift of the signage in front of the high school. He went to Sunday School at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church and went to “big church” at Lake Highlands Baptist Church. Now he’s taken his talents to work for the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.
“I learned that day that cameramen cry, too; they just make sure the microphone doesn’t pick them up.”
How were you involved in the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum?
My colleague Chris Kelley is the founder and namesake of our firm, TKG Communications LLC [The Kelley Group]. We have had the honor of representing the museum as a PR firm for 12 years, with myself being the principal videographer for the past five. Opening this museum has been the honor of a lifetime, and The Kelley Group is so lucky to be a part of an amazing collaboration of professionals who are passionate about teaching the history of the Holocaust and the importance of standing up for human rights. Ever since the groundbreaking in 2017, my job has been to capture the construction and installation process through photographs and video. Some of this footage is already being shown on the big screen in Cinemark Theaters before movies, and some of it will be used for upcoming projects like our annual Hope for Humanity Dinner. The best part of the job is getting a sneak peek of the brand-new exhibition before anybody else does. The technology and artistry they put into this museum is truly impressive. I also do a fair amount of writing for the museum that finds its way to the general public, much of it focused on highlighting the unique educational and interactive features we offer to visitors and student tour groups.
What has been the most impactful experience?
I remember my first time sitting behind the camera recording Holocaust survivor Paul Kessler tell his story of hiding from Nazis in a makeshift hole in the ground. Seeing him brought to tears while reading a letter from a student who had heard Paul tell his story is a moment I’ll never forget. I learned that day that cameramen cry, too; they just make sure the microphone doesn’t pick them up. Seeing a student’s life transformed by a survivor’s testimony is one of those powerful confirmations that the work being done at the museum is vital to the health of our community. We won’t always have these survivors with us, which is why I savor every moment I get to spend with them.
What is an “upstander?”
An upstander is someone who stands up for others no matter the cost. When something’s wrong, you can count on an upstander to make it right. One of the goals of the museum is to teach visitors that anyone can be an upstander and that everyone must be an upstander if we hope to live in a world where all people are treated with dignity and respect. You can always count on an upstander to stand up in the face of injustice, inequality or unfairness. It’s just that sometimes that upstander has to be you.
Can you explain the storytelling and technology behind “Dimensions in Testimony”?
Last year, the USC Shoah Foundation sent a video crew out to Dallas to interview Max Glauben, one of our beloved local survivors, for the new museum’s “Dimensions in Testimony” theater. They set up green screens and cameras all around Max to capture every possible angle, and over the course of a week, they asked him over a thousand questions about his life before, during and after the Holocaust. One of only two such theaters in the world, the theater allows museum visitors to interact with holographic images of survivors as if they were having a one-on-one conversation. Max will be the featured survivor, which means students will get to meet a real survivor for generations to come.
What is the importance of this museum in today’s political climate?
Divisions run deep in this country. Sometimes these divisions can foster healthy dialogue, but as we’ve seen with the rise of the internet and social media, more often these divisions can turn into outright hostility. One of the best, most understated programs hosted at the museum is the “Civil Discourse Series,” presented by the Meadows Foundation, which brings together people of differing viewpoints to discuss the divisive topics of our day with decency, respect and lowered voices. You can drop a topic like the death penalty into a Facebook thread and watch the sharks attack each other, or you can come to a civil discourse panel at the museum and see two or three informed experts with varying points of view speak to each other like human beings. I’ll always choose the latter, and that’s just one of the programs the museum uses to foster respectful dialogue between Americans who disagree.
How does this relate to Dallas/North Texas?
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is the fulfillment of a dream over 40 years in the making. Local Holocaust Survivors first met in 1977 to discuss an institution that would tell the tragic story of the Holocaust to generations of visitors to ensure it would never happen again. Because of their tremendous efforts, the first museum opened in 1984 in the basement of the Jewish Community Center. Unfortunately, genocide has happened again, and it’s still going on today. The shocking reality is that genocide can happen anywhere, and our state and our nation are no exceptions to the rule. We’ve learned that it takes vigilance and a commitment to educate the public about the very real consequences when average citizens don’t stand up to hatred and prejudice. This museum has faithfully served as the ethical heartbeat of North Texas for decades, and with this new facility, we’re hoping to make upstander behavior its lifeblood.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.