Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dare Not Walk Alone Screens at Mercyhurst College, PA

The award-winning independent documentary about race and rights in America, Dare Not Walk Alone, will be shown in the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center, Wednesday, October 8, 2008, at 2PM and again at 8PM, as part of the Guelcher Film Series. The film's director, Jeremy Dean, will be on hand to discuss the film.

(Mercyhurst College is in Erie, Pennsylvania.)

A Footnote to the National Slavery and Jim Crow Apology

When the U.S. House of Representatives apologized, earlier this week, for slavery and the Jim Crow laws, it was following in the footsteps of several states, including Florida, which apologized to African American Floridians in April of this year. As we noted then, another piece of Florida legislation seeks to go further and expunge the records of Floridians who were arrested for protesting the Jim Crow laws in the sixties. And that legislation was introduced in direct response to Dare Not Walk Alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At Last: Congress Apologizes for Salvery and Jim Crow Laws

Sometimes good news comes out of nowhere or, as on Tuesday, out of congress, where the House has apologized for slavery and the Jim Crow laws. A lot of people have been pushing for this for some time. But there has never been, until now, sufficient collective will to make it happen. So we say: Well done congresspersons! But also: About time!

The full text of the bill makes interesting reading. This is not a collection of vague words. It reads like the person who wrote it, and the people who passed it, really do understand that there is a lot to apologize for. Consider these assertions, which the House of Representatives has now asserted to be true:

...a century after the official end of slavery in America, Federal action was required during the 1960s to eliminate the dejure and defacto system of Jim Crow throughout parts of the Nation, though its vestiges still linger to this day;

Which is what Dare Not Walk Alone is all about. And this:

...African-Americans continue to suffer from the complex interplay between slavery and Jim Crow--long after both systems were formally abolished--through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity;

So, if you should hear someone saying that racial inequality is all in the past and that things are all well and good today, kindly tell them that ain't so, and when they ask "Says who?" you can now answer "Says the United States House of Representatives."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Theater in New York to "Pioneer" Dare Not Walk Alone

Exciting news for supporters of Dare Not Walk Alone. On August 22 the film will start a week long run in New York, at the Pioneer Theater, Third Street at Avenue A. Times are not yet posted on the theater's web site but we are told there will be two showings a night.

Please let friends and family know about this. Obviously it will be a huge boost to the film if folks turn out in strong numbers for these showings. Here's the theater info:

Pioneer Theater
155 East 3rd Street, at Avenue A
New York City
Showtimes: (212) 591 0434
Pioneer Theater Website

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama: Could both be right about responsibility?

As reported by the New York Times today, the Rev. Jesse Jackson apologized for critical and crude comments he made about Senator Barack Obama. While regrettable in a number of ways, this incident sheds welcome light on an issue that needs to be discussed more openly, the question of responsibility for the current state of affairs in poor black communities. One is reminded that the director's original tag line for Dare Not Walk Alone was "The War of Responsibility." Watching the movie certainly puts sentiments like Rev. Jackson's in context.

Now Senator Obama is inclined to say that absentee fathers are, at least in part, to blame for some of the problems afflicting black Americans, for example: “We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.” Rev. Jackson thinks this is “talking down to black people.” Rev. Jackson says other issues should be highlighted, including unemployment, the mortgage crisis and the number of blacks in prison. In other words, past actions by white are also to blame.

According to a statement by Rev. Jackson reported in the Times: “My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility.”

Surely both men are right. There is definitely a woeful lack of good choices in some communities. And bad choices by white politicians have not helped. It has to be very discouraging to grow up in a neighborhood that has no sewer system and then watch your county commissioners divert federal funds intended for sewer improvements into a wealthy and predominantly white sub-division. Or attend a school that has far less resources than the white school on the other side of town.

But the fact is, some people succeed despite such things, and maybe some of them are able to do so because they have fathers who stuck by them and encouraged them. And while some fathers shirk their responsibilities for purely selfish reasons, others find themselves ill-equipped to cope with their responsibilities. As the Times points out, the way you see this issue is partly determined by your age. Here's what Rev. Jackson's son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, who serves as a national co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, had to say: “Reverend Jackson is my dad, and I’ll always love him...[but]...I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

Back in 2003-2004, when Dare Not Walk Alone was conceived, it was almost impossible to think that America could have a public debate on this topic. That is one reason so few people were prepared to back the film. Which proves things can change a lot in four years.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Notre Dame to Screen Dare Not Walk Alone

The University of Notre Dame will be showing Dare Not Walk Alone in October as part of the WORLDVIEW Film Series. There will be three showings: Friday, October 10, 2008, at 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm, and Saturday, October 11, 2008, at 6:30 pm. Click here for details.

The screenings will be in the the Browning Cinema which is equipped to show films in almost any format (and is the only THX-certified cinema in Indiana). Director Jeremy Dean will be there for a Q&A session on Friday evening.

WORLDVIEW is an initiative from the Office of the President to promote constructive dialogue about issues of diversity, including race, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic class, and gender…through the arts.