Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scenes from '64: Non-violence in action.

A campaign of non-violent protest does not mean there will be no violence; it means you may suffer violence but you do not fight back. This places the people against whose position you are protesting in a very difficult, often untenable position. This was Dr. King's brilliant, and successful, strategy in St. Augustine in 1964.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meet the Filmmaker: Dare Not Walk Alone's Jeremy Dean

At the 7:45PM showings of Dare Not Walk Alone this coming Friday and Saturday at the Laemmle Grande 4-Plex in Los Angeles, filmgoers will have a chance to meet the filmmaker, Jeremy Dean.
And 'filmmaker' aptly describes Jeremy Dean, who not only wrote and directed Dare Not Walk Alone, he also has producer, editor, and cinematographer credits on the film.

Hope you can be there! Click here for tickets.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Film Brings Dr. Martin Luther King's Florida Encarceration to Light

An Old Town Trolley Tour is one of the best ways to see Saint Augustine, the oldest city of European origin in America; the tour guides are famous for their entertaining but fact-packed monologues, and Trolley Tours management, which has a strong Ben & Jerry social responsibility flavor to it, takes its educational role very seriously. So imagine their surprise when a recent visitor, a professor from California no less, complained that her tour guide was over-selling the city's role in the civil rights movement. She went so far as to state that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was NOT jailed in Saint Augustine.

Dr. King most certainly WAS jailed in Saint Augustine, as were hundreds of other people. Sometimes so many people were arrested that St. John's County Sheriff's Department held them in open air stockages, in the Florida sun. Dr. King is shown in custody in Florida in the above photograph from the Library of Congress AND in newsreels excerpted in Dare Not Walk Alone AND as described in Jeremy Dean's 2005 interview with the late James Brock, the man whose restaurant Dr. King was attempting to enter when the police bundled him into the back seat of a police car (with a large police dog for company).

Not only that, one of the houses at which Dr. King stayed during his time in Saint Augustine was fired upon, as reported in the St. Augustine Record, and recorded in this great AP photo captioned: "Dr. King looks at a glass door of his rented beach cottage in St. Augustine, Fla. that was shot into by someone unknown on June 5, 1964. King took time out from conferring with St. Augustine integration leaders to inspect the house, which no one was in at the time of the shooting."

That bullet hole is still there today, that's how much the people who own the house respect Dr. King's legacy. It is historical fact that Dr. King spent a large part of April through June of 1964 coordinating what he referred to as "our push here in St. Augustine" describing it as a prelude to "a long hot summer." (You can hear his exact words in the film's trailer.) This carefully worded statement was a warning to the Southern Democrats in the US Senate who had vowed to kill the civil rights act with procedural maneuvers.

Dr. King made it clear that he and his followers were prepared to "march the streets of this city until the walls of segregation come tumbling down." For Dr. King had figured out there was a limit to how many nights in a row politicians could watch scenes of demonstrators being beaten by police and white extremists before they did the right thing and make segregation illegal.

There is enormous irony in someone suggesting that Saint Augustine is today 'over-playing its civil rights hand.' In fact, it has taken years of effort and pressure from people like historian David Nolan and groups like the 40th Accord and their supporters, to bring this part of the city's past into the light alongside other momentous local events (like the landing of Ponce De Leon in 1513, the slaughter of the Huguenots and founding of the city in 1565, and so much more).

Given all that, we at DNWA were prepared to be quite upset with the person who complained to Trolley Tours, but then we took a deep breath and looked around. That's when it became clear that across most of America the role of Saint Augustine in the civil rights movement has been left out or glossed over for the past 40 years, to such an extent that many people, even scholars, react in disbelief when they hear the historical facts. For example, Dr. King's efforts and arrest in Saint Augustine do not appear in many of the timelines of civil rights movement.

These timelines often have a big gap between the introduction of the Civil Rights Act in 1963 and its signing in July of 1964. What do they think Dr. King was doing in that time? He sure as heck was not on vacation. Yet while many timelines credit 'Bloody Sunday' in Selma, in March of 1965, as the catalyst for the Voting Rights Act passing in August of 1965, few note the repeated beatings and imprisonment that people suffered in Saint Augustine in relation to the very first civil rights act. Even the Library of Congress listing for the photo above has it wrongly identified as being taken in 1962.

So, we understand why people might be surprised to learn the true story of Saint Augustine's fight for equality in 1963 and 1964. After all, the all-white city fathers of the time worked very hard to hush it up, afraid that it would hurt the tourism trade on which the city was economically dependent. These days we see signs of a more enlightened attitude, a willingness to honor those who risked their lives so that all of us could enjoy 'a more perfect union.'

Friday, April 18, 2008

Show Times for Dare Not Walk Alone at the Laemmle Grande 4-Plex

Several of you have asked for the show times. This table lists all shows currently scheduled. All times are PM.

For the latest show times, theater details, and tickets click here.

Civil Rights Movie "Right on Time" and "Coming to a Theater Near You"

As the dialog about race in America spreads from the campaign trail to the Sunday talk shows, from blogs to bars and coffee shops, there is one movie ideally placed to serve as the centerpiece of that dialog: Dare Not Walk Alone.

This is a documentary that doesn't shy away from hard-to-watch images of past intolerance or present inequality, yet manages to find signs of hope in both the past and present.

Hailed by critics as "brave filmmaking" and "a triumph of outrage and empathy" it opens next week in Los Angeles. (For show times and all the other info click here.) If enough people go see this movie in the first week it can secure openings in other cities across America and thus serve as tool by which to tear down the walls of suspicion and discomfort that too often separate Americans along racial lines.

At the beginning of the film we hear Dr. King, speaking in 1964, make what must have sounded at the time like a huge leap of faith: "I believe that the negroes of St. Augustine and their allies in the white community are determined to march the streets of the city until the walls of segregation come crumbling down."

Yet those brave souls, marching in a county where the KKK enjoyed open support, did indeed bring down the walls of segregation. Their determination to meet violence with non-violence, blacks arm-in-arm with whites, eventually forced the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, as the film documents, stark inequities remain, in the very place where people fought for equality forty years ago.

As one Orange County blogger pointed out, Dare Not Walk Alone is the film to see if you want to understand Where the Anger Comes From. It is also a film for those who want to understand how equality and justice can be best served by coming together and seeing eye-to-eye.

(And if enough people turn out to see the film in LA, the rest of America will get a chance to see it too.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dare Not Walk Alone Getting Hot, Getting Noticed

The recent press release did not make the front page of any old media [yet] but it did get a shout on several blogs, including Clyde Smith's Hip-Hop Logic. Thanks Clyde, much appreciated. The trailer is already starting to heat up on YouTube:

Also got a nice post on Vernon Hadnot's D210 TV, a cutting edge video/magazine show focusing on "positive images and role models for today’s young adults, through the latest in music videos, entertainment news, artist spotlights and local community events." Thanks Vernon! We appreciate you tagging the story 'What's Hot' because we think DNWA is hot--and a bunch of people will soon be kicking themselves for not seeing that sooner. The trailer is already starting to heat up on YouTube:

And the prize for 'far-out blog post' has to go to the University of Göteborg Resistance Studies Network. Yes, that's Goteborg in Sweden. And you might wonder what Sweden has to do with civil rights in America. Let's play random association:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest person to win the Nobel Prize, awarded by Sweden just a few months after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the brilliant non-violent campaign for which is documented in DNWA .
  • The official Dare Not Walk Alone web site was built with a template designed by a very cool twenty-something web designer from Jokkmokk, Sweden, Andreas Viklund.
  • The University of Göteborg puts on an annual conference about gender and religion and this year's keynote speaker was Prof. Ursula King, a renowned expert in religious studies and good friend of one of Dare Not Walk Alone's producers.
Interesting connections and they remind us that, long before the Internet, people of conscience from around the world were working together to end injustice and bring about positive change. People in Europe supported Dr. King in America, and later Nelson Mandela in South Africa, through lobbying and letter-writing, marching and generally making a nuisance of themselves to anyone clinging to the injustices of the past.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Florida's Formal Slavery Apology and the Power of Low Budget Movies

You might have missed it among all bad news about about the economy and the important coverage of the fortieth anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, but it deserves attention. The state of Florida recently offered a formal apology for slavery.

Apparently it was an emotional vote. The Miami Herald ran a picture showing Senator Tony Hill, who has been a strong supporter of Dare Not Walk Alone, being embraced by Senate President Ken Pruitt at the capitol in Tallahassee.

While Dare Not Walk Alone cannot claim credit for this apology, the film is directly responsible for a related bill now making its way through the Florida legislature. The Pardons/Restoration of Rights/Rosa Parks Act seeks a full pardon for "any person convicted of protesting or challenging a state law or local government ordinance the purpose of which was to maintain racial segregation of or racial discrimination against individuals." In other words, a pardon for the brave marchers and protestors of Saint Augustine featured in the film. The bill was introduced by Senator Hill after attending the first public screening of the film.

"The documentary was so moving that, as chairman of the Black Caucus of the State of Florida, I have filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session in the House and the Senate to have all records cleared for anyone who was arrested because of segregated laws. That is how compelling the film was to me."

Senator Hill was true to his word and the bill is moving forward. Who says movies can't make a difference!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Robert Kennedy on the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We thought people might want to hear this remarkable moment in history, when Robert Kennedy, brother of slain President John F. Kennedy, spoke of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just a few hours after it happened.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Committed Life: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dr. King's Legacy of Non-Violence Kept Alive

As we approach one of the saddest and most tragic anniversaries of our time, the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. forty years ago this week, we are honored to play a small part in preserving his great legacy in Dare Not Walk Alone, one of the few films we know of that documents in detail the practical genius of Dr. King's non-violence principles..

In the film we see exactly how Dr. King focused world attention on the injustices of the Jim Crow laws of the segregated South. Because he persuaded supporters to remain peaceful on marches, sit-ins, beach bus-ins, and boycotts, despite increasingly hysterical violence and provocation from those who opposed desegregation, the world was treated to image after image of white Americans, police with dogs, youths with clubs and chains, assaulting innocent black people.

The contrast proved too much for Washington politicians in the summer of 1964. The motel owner, James Brock (shown speaking with Dr. King in this rarely seen archive footage from the film) whose segregated establishment had been picketed for many months, finally snapped and used acid to get black and white bathers out of his "Whites Only" swimming pool.

Within days of that incident the first civil rights act was passed. For it showed the world how futile segregation was when some black and white Americans were prepared to link arms and stand united to put their lives on the line for freedom and justice for all. May we strive to honor Dr. King's legacy by continuing to stand together to achieve that goal.