Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greetings Nashville! Dare Not Walk Alone's Jeremy Dean to Host 2 Screenings

Jeremy Dean, director of the NAACP Image Award nominated documentary Dare Not Walk Alone, will host two Nashville screenings of the film co-sponsored by the International Black Film Festival of Nashville.

The first is 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday February 26) in the Watkins College Theatre in MetroCenter, and the second is 7 p.m. Fridy (February 27) at Gallatin's historic downtown Palace Theatre. Tickets are $7. For more details, check out the Nashville Scene web site.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Murdoch Apology: What a difference a few days/decades make

Today Rupert Murdoch of Newscorp, Fox News, Fox Sports, Fox Entertainment, and a whole lot more, one of the richest men in the world, said this:

"As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me. Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted."

According to the BBC, Mr Murdoch said he had spoken to a number of people since the publication and that he could now "better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused". So maybe Mr. Murdoch is one of the more than 300 people who have watched the clip from Dare Not Walk Alone that I posted on YouTube and this blog a few days ago. The point of that clip was to educate. It seems Mr. Murdoch needed some education.

The clip shows two black women who, as young girls, accompanied a white woman to First United Methodist Church in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964 describing their experience: The white deacon barred the door and said to the white woman "You're welcome to come in but your little monkeys can't."
That reference to monkeys was clearly racial and intended to hurt and demean. White bystanders shouted other racial slurs at the young girls. Several black adults who attempted to enter the same church were arrested and taken away by police. An apology for that incident came 40 years later when the church held a special service to personally apologize to those who were turned away. It took Mr. Murdoch about 4 days. There has indeed been much progress, but personally I think we still have a long way to go.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

When Words Are Weighed Down By History: Should we make light?

The controversy surrounding the New York Post's chimpanzee cartoon brought to mind a moment in the film, so I decided to post it here.

video
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dare Not Walk Alone Wins: Even though it didn't get the award

I know it sounds corny, but everyone who was at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards tonight was a winner. Never before have I experienced that much shared love in an auditorium full of people, never have I felt so much collective hope and joy.

(And never before have I witnessed a musical performance as moving as Jennifer Hudson singing "The Impossible Dream" to Muhammad Ali, but I digress.)

No, Dare Not Walk Alone did come away with the Image Award for Outstanding Documentary, but to be nominated and considered and embraced in such a way, this is a big win for the film as far as I'm concerned. I am sure there will be more screenings because of this, and an uptick in DVD sales.

On a personal level, I think the director Jeremy and I look just a little bit like zombies here at the after-party, wearing dazed grins on our pasty white faces in a mixture of sheer joy and disbelief that our "little" film had come so far. We had no star power and no marketing budget, yet we're here with fellow nominees from studio films like Cadillac Records, Miracle at St. Anna, The Secret Life of Bees and Seven Pounds. We're rubbing shoulders with stars from amazing shows such as The Wire, a TV epic that Jeremy and I both hold in highest esteem (and which got the same number of awards we did).

The personal and professional interest being shown in the film is genuine and real. People have sought us out and introduced themselves. Several studio executives have personally requested screeners of the film. We are pumped! And I think we will be able to carry that feeling through to a new push to get the film seen more widely than ever.

So Thank You NAACP, and happy HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

100 Years Ago: The Founding of the NAACP

This week, 100 years ago, a most amazing meeting took place, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. This meeting resulted in the formation of the NAACP which went on to become the oldest, and arguably the most influential, of the civil rights organizations. The stated mission of the NAACP is:

"To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination."
It is hard to think of a more worthy mission than that, then or now. The NAACP has a year of events planned and a new drive to further its mission. Check it out at http://www.naacp.org/ and consider becoming a member.

As you probably know, NAACP stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People although the term colored people is these days retained mainly in accordance with tradition and is generally not used anywhere else.

One of the most amazing things to me about the founding of the NAACP is the diverse group of people who got things started at that first meeting. These days a cynic might think this group was assembled just for the sake of diversity. There several African-American men, two women (one white, one African-American) plus several white men, one of whom was Jewish.

But hey, their hearts were all in the same place, and it was the right place, and the rest, as they say, is history: a glorious 100-year history of improving the rights of all.
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

NAACP Image Awards on Fox, 8PM Thursday, Feb 12

Since Roger Moore over at the Orlando Sentinel mentioned the NAACP Image Awards being on BET, I thought I would point out they are on Fox, 8PM Thursday, Feb 12 (check the schedule here).

Thanks Orlando Sentinel! Rooting for Dare Not Walk Alone

Under the headline "A great Florida film to root for in the NAACP Image Awards Thursday" the Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore had these kind words:

"Dare Not Walk Alone is up against the great Katrina documentary Trouble the Water in the best documentary category at the NAACP Image Awards, airing Tuesday night on BET. but Jeremy Dean's terrific film has a shot."
As previously noted in this blog, Trouble the Water is indeed a fine film and it is already "Oscar Nominated." That has put it on the radar for many people who might otherwise have overlooked it, and that's a good thing. The localized events of Hurricane Katrina, dealt with in Trouble the Water, drew attention to broader American issues and struggles. Likewise, by focusing on the racial conflict in St. Johns County, Dare Not Walk Alone seeks to draw attention to problems encountered across America. We are really looking forward to meeting the folks from Trouble the Water in Los Angeles this week.

Here is what I posted in reply to Roger's piece in the Orlando Sentinel. I'm not sure if all of it appears on the site:

Thanks for the kind comments Roger. To say that Jeremy and the rest of us on this project are thrilled that the film is up for this award would be a huge under-statement. The sense of history this year is almost intoxicating: the Image Awards ceremony is being held on the very same day that the NAACP was founded, 100 years ago (the same day that Lincoln was born, 100 years earlier).

The struggle to create a just and equal society has been long and hard, but it is not over yet. Yes, we have elected the first African American president, and we the people can take pride in that. But even as we take some time this month to honor the brave and heroic achievements of past campaigners for equality, we need to be thinking hard about how we can accomplish the difficult work that still needs to be done.

Dare Not Walk Alone has always been about both of these things, seeking to convey both the raw heroism of those who stood up to segregation and the reality of the present, where injustice still lingers, even as a heart-felt desire for reconciliation begins to emerge. It is our hope that the film will turn that desire into action and a renewed effort to achieve Dr. King's "beloved community." It is not too far out of reach.

Stephen Cobb
Executive Producer