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!

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