Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Stony the Road we Trod"

I tend to steer clear of documentaries dealing with the Civil Rights Movement because they weigh heavy on me, but I was drawn by the title of this week's Reel of the Week: :BOOKER'S PLACE".

It is a documentary within a documentary. Film maker Raymond De Felitta  decides to help his father, documentary Film maker, Frank De Felitta catalog his vast body of work. While organizing the films they discover an almost forgotten documentary on Race relations in the small town of Greenwood Mississippi during the 1960's. "BOOKER'S PLACE" is about that documentary.
Booker Wright was a waiter at an all white restaurant called "Lusco's". He was also a father and owned his own after hours cafe called "BOOKER'S PLACE'.
Frank De Felitta asked Booker if he would like to be interviewed for the documentary. That interview was so brutally honest, poignant & powerful, it became the catalyst that upended the town & lead to a brutal murder.


The White people of Greenwood  so deep in their delusion of Superiority & the "Happy Negro", were incensed by Booker's interview, which was shown at Prime time on NBC. They granted interviews and proclaimed: "Our Nigras, Love us", "We treat them like they want to be treated", They don't want to go to school with white children, because they aren't as smart. They would feel inferior."
Frank's documentary showed the world, the bloody wound of racism.The Whites of Greenwood were not going to take that lying down & the Blacks had no where to turn. Almost every member of the town council & police force was a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan. The Blacks of Greenwood could only steel themselves for the coming retribution.

After Raymond & his father looked over the forgotten footage, they wondered about the the town of Greenwood & Booker Wright. What was life like today for the participants.
They decided to contact Booker's family & have a showing of the film in Greenwood.
After the documentary was shown, Raymond opened up the room for questions & dialogue. What struck me the most, was how vastly different the reactions were between Whites & Blacks. One particular exchange between a White man & a Black really summed it up for me.
The white man stood & spoke about his love for his "Black Mother" who raised him & loved him. A Black man stood & said "While my Mother was tending to, and taking care of the plantation owners children. Feeding them, comforting them , she was not available to me. I was alone.I can't tell you how painful that was." The White man simply said "I wouldn't change a thing. I loved my Black Mother.
That speaks volumes for me & illustrates the deep chasm that still exists.
"BOOKER'S PLACE' & documentaries like it, start a fire in my soul. A fire that most of the time I would rather not stoke. It brought tears for Booker & scores of others who have lost & will lose their lives as the struggle for civil rights continues for all minorities.
Watch "BOOKER'S PLACE" for knowledge. Listen...really Listen. It will give you insight. Even into the trivial, but not so trivial Paula Deen fiasco. It's much deeper than the N word. It's about the culture of Racism. It effects jobs, housing & life & Death (Jordan Davis)

"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize,accept and celebrate those differences"-Audre Lorde