CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 01-23-14
By Cash Michaels
IN PUERTO RICO – If you’re reading this between Thursday, January 23rd, and Saturday, January 25th, then, hoping I got there safely (and will get back the same way), I’m in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the National Newspaper Publishers’ Association Mid-Winter Conference.
No, I’m certainly NOT a black newspaper publisher. Just a lowly old reporter. But I am also a documentary filmmaker, and the reason I’m here is to preview my latest film, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
The project is one of the hardest endeavors I’ve ever undertaken, personally or professionally. And yet, it is one of the most rewarding, even if I’m the only one ever to like it.
It is the story of the Wilmington Ten - ten North Carolinians who stood up for educational equality in New Hanover Public School during the early 1970’s in the midst of turbulent school desegregation. It is also the story of how a dynamic, young civil rights activist, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, led a movement for freedom, justice and equality against a long ingrained system of racism.
The film actually tracks the history of racial injustice in Wilmington, beginning with the 1898 race massacre, leading through school desegregation in the South, and bringing us to Wilmington, where the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sets off a chain reaction of events, including the closing of the reknowned all-black Williston Senior High School, that lead to a violent week of racial upheaval in the port city in February 1971, and ultimately, the unjust trial and conviction of ten innocent freedom fighters.
It would take forty years from the false convictions of the Wilmington Ten, for the state of North Carolina, thanks to Gov. Beverly Perdue, to realize the error in its deed, and grant pardons of innocence to each of the Ten.
Beyond the Rev. Ben Chavis, members of the Wilmington Ten and their families, others who appear in the film exclusively include Joseph McNeil, one of the legendary Greensboro Four who integrated the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro over half-century ago; Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was one of the pastors from the United Church of Christ who lobbied former Gov. Jim Hunt in 1977 to pardon the Wilmington; and former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who says in the film that she considered the Wilmington Ten “patriots” for standing up for what they believed against a repressive system of “naked racism.”
This is obviously being written before anyone as seen it, so I won’t be able to give you reaction until I get back next week. My hope is that I’ve done my job as a journalist in telling this extraordinary story, and important part of American history, black or otherwise.
So when do you see it?
The official world premiere of “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” is scheduled to take place Saturday, Feb. 15th, at UNC – Wilmington in the morning (I’ll nail down the time for you by next week). Afterwards there will be a Q & A session, followed by a panel discussion on the state of the modern civil rights movement, and the continued need for a vibrant Black Press.
Later that evening, a black tie gala at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue, NCNAACP Pres. William Barber, and others who took part in the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project. Please contact Shawn Thatch at the Journal for ticket info and more information at 910-762-5502, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“THE BUTLER” DENIED – I m still scratching my head at least week’s bombshell Academy Award nominations for the best films and film performances for 2013.
The shocker (for me at least), absolutely NOT one nomination of any sort for “Lee Daniels The Butler,” the star-studded historic drama about a White House servant who lives through several years of US presidents.
By now you know that the film starred Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. All of the smart money when the film came out last August said that Whitaker and Winfrey would be leading the pack come Oscar awards time.
Well, boy, were we wrong.
Mind you, Oprah was good in her role as the unhinged wife of the White House butler, but Forest Whitaker was beyond tremendous. He actually aged in front of us, handling the various nuances of an aging black man, dealing with the changing world around him from the seat of power with skill and grace.
There was nothing small about Whitaker’s performance. He was indeed the linchpin that held the entire film together.
Apparently the audiences agreed, giving “The Butler” a solid $100 million-plus box office. Critics were in raves, as well.
So there was no question that Whitaker, Oprah, and director Lee Daniels would be seeing Oscar night from the Kodak Theater audience…and perhaps, even, from the stage accepting something.
Instead, the film is incredibly and completely overlooked by the Oscar voters.
This is worse than what happened in 1985 when Steven Spielberg’s heralded, “The Color Purple” was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and won nothing.
“The Butler” didn’t even get nominated for one – not makeup, sound…NOTHING!
Heck… even “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and “The Lone Ranger” got technical nominations.
And even a film called “Jackass: Bad Grandpa” got a Best Makeup nomination.
So why was “The Butler”coldcocked so horribly?
Apparently because of politics.
Those Oscar voters, who tend to skew a little bit whiter and a little bit older (actually, make that lot on both counts), decided they’d rather give the “colored slot” to “12 Years a Slave,” a greatly heralded film by black British director Steve McQueen, and produced by actor Brad Pitt’s company.
Now I have nothing bad to say about “12 Years…” at all, primarily because I haven’t seen it yet. I hear it is excellent. But what this whole scenario with “The Butler” tells me is that Oscar hasn’t quite grown up yet. Apparently, even with the categories expanded to ten to include more nominees, the Oscar folks feel have two great black films in competition is too much, so we can only get one nominated.
What sense that makes is beyond me, but that’s apparently what we got.
So we wish “12 Years a Slave,” which is up for Best Picture, among other categories, good luck. It seems that the media is trying to steer folks towards other nominated films that they like.
Fine. But from this point on, if ever there was a film that was legitimately robbed of a chance to even be in the running, it’s, sadly, “Lee Daniels The Butler.”
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
And coming on February 15, 2014, the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions documentary presentation of, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
Community input sought
Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) Superintendent James Merrill is inviting WCPSS employees, parents, and the public to share their thoughts, concerns, and priorities for WCPSS in a series of community input events entitled Superintendent's Direct Line. The first session is slated for Thursday, January 23, at East Wake High.
"This is especially important at this time of year," said Dr. Merrill, "as we work on the budget and plans of action for the 2014-2015 school year."
Dr. Merrill has reserved the first hour-and-a-half of each event specifically for teachers and other WCPSS employees. The last hour-and-a-half is open to parents and the public. Interested speakers may begin signing up on-site at 4:00 p.m. each day in the lobby of the school auditorium. Each speaker is allotted three minutes and one appearance at the Superintendent's Direct Line events.
Speakers are reminded that the Superintendent's Direct Line is a public event; therefore, personnel issues should not be voiced during this time. Caution should be exercised before sharing private student matters.
Dr. Merrill welcomes the opportunity to hear what's on the minds of Wake's citizens. "I encourage everyone who cares about Wake schools to join us. This is a time to listen and let our community do the talking."
Superintendent's Direct Line Schedule
All events will be held in the school auditorium.
• January 23 - East Wake High
• January 27 - Broughton High
• January 29 - Panther Creek High
• February 3 - Southeast Raleigh High
• February 17 - Wakefield High
Afternoon and evening schedule at each site:
4:00 p.m. Speakers for Employee and Parents & Public events may begin signing up in the lobby of the auditorium
4:30 - 6:00 p.m. Superintendent's Direct Line for Employees
6:00 - 6:30 p.m. (Break) Speaker signup continues until all slots are full or 6:45 p.m.
6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Superintendent's Direct Line for Parents and the Public
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 1-23-14
MOURNERS PAY TRIBUTE TO FRANKLIN MCCAIN
[CHARLOTTE] He was remembered as a man of history who forever changed the world with a simple act of defiance. Dr. Franklin McCain, one of the Greensboro Four who gallantly integrated a Woolworth “white’s only” lunch counter in Feb. 1, 1960, was laid to rest last Friday during a funeral service in Charlotte. He was 73. Dr. McCain, who went on to become a research chemist, and later chairman of the trustee board at his alma mater, NC A&T University, was heralded by his classmate, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Kay Hagan, and even Pres. Obama sent a message saying that McCain taught the world that “..we are the change we seek.”
POLICE SHOOTING VICTIM’S FAMILY SUES CHARLOTTE POLICE
[CHARLOTTE] The family of a young black man fatally shot last Sept. 14th by a Charlotte police officer, has filed a lawsuit against the Charlotte Police Dept. and others. The mother and brother of Jonathan Ferrell, the former Florida A&M University football player whose car broke down in a Charlotte suburb, only to be shot by officers when they arrived, say they want to expose the police force’s policy on the use of lethal force.
AMAZON.COM STARTS CHARGING TAX FEB. 1
You have until Feb. 1 to make your online purchases from Amazon.com tax-free. After that, the online retailer will begin collecting state sales taxes in 19 states, including North Carolina. Amazon.com has fought not to collect taxes for years from states where it does not have offices or warehouses. But a pending federal law in Congress, once passed, will soon mandate it.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 1-23-14
MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY THREATENED RALEIGH
MAYOR HAS WHITE SUPREMACIST TIES
A 27-year-old white man who is apparently an Aryan nation sympathizer is accused of threatening Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. Alec Dane Redner of Brass Kettle Road in Raleigh, is charged with communicating threats and threatening an executive, legal or court officer. Redner allegedly posted his threat telling McFarlane to “watch out” on her website, adding that soon, “...you will be on the other end of the barrel.” He has a criminal record which includes assault. When his car was searched in May 2010, Wake deputies found an AR-15 rifle, and white supremacist – anti-government literature. He is being held in the Wake County jail.
VIOLENCE CONTINUES DURING HUERTA FAMILY VIGILS
Even though the family of a 17-year-old teenager who reported shot himself in a Durham police cruiser has called for peace and justice during their vigils, some who take part still use the occasion to create havoc with police. The family of Jesus Huerta held a prayer vigil last weekend at a local Catholic church to one again remember the teen, as investigations continue into how he could fatally shoot himself while handcuffed in a police car. But marchers after the vigil apparently wouldn’t take the family’s plea for peace seriously, causing damage to a Durham Police substation and several police vehicles with rocks and spray paint. Six people, including two juveniles, were arrested.
FORMER NAACP PRES. JEALOUS BLASTS MCCRORY IN KING MESSAGE AT DUKE
The former president/CEO of the national NAACP had choice words the direction North Carolina is going under Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP legislature. Benjamin Jealous, who stepped down from NAACP leadership last year, told those gather at Duke Chapel Sunday for its annual King Holiday commemoration. Jealous accused North Carolina Republicans of “taking us backwards fast,” and criticized policies like voter ID. Jealous also said that he fully supports the NCNAACP’s “moral Monday” movement.
FILM HONORS HISTORIC WILMINGTON TEN PARDONS - The North Carolina premiere of the documentary, "Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten" is set for Saturday, Feb. 15th at UNC - Wilmington in Wilmington, followed by a special panel discussion and gala banquet honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue, who granted the pardons on Dec. 31st, 2012 after a strong coalition effort led by the Black Press [photo courtesy of Perdue Administration]
FEB. 15TH SET FOR “PARDONS OF
INNOCENCE” FILM PREMIERE, GALA
Special to The Carolinian
The world premiere of the National Newspaper Publishers Association – CashWorks HD Productions documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” has now been officially set for Saturday, Feb. 15th at UNC – Wilmington, in Wilmington, followed by gala banquet honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue.
The day of special events is titled, “Black Press: Joining Together for a Better World,” and is presented by The Wilmington Journal, which has served Southeastern North Carolina’s African-American community for 87 years, and the NNPA.
The film screening is free and open to the public.
The documentary recounts the history surrounding the troubled desegregation of New Hanover County Public schools during the late 1960s thorough 1971, which evolved into the false prosecution of eight black male students, a white female community organizer, and a fiery civil rights activist, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, for protesting racial injustice.
Against the backdrop of the Wilmington 1898 race massacre and the forced desegregation of Southern schools in the 1960s, the documentary also traces how the Black Press, led initially by Wilmington Journal publisher Thomas C. Jervay, Sr., and over 40 years later by his daughter, publisher-editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch through the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), ultimately pushed for, and achieved the official exoneration of the Wilmington Ten.
The documentary is set to be released on DVD for public schools - grades 9 through 12 (with academic guide); colleges and universities, and the general public.
The NNPA, also known as “The Black Press of America,” is a 74-year-old federation of more than 200 black community newspapers across the United States. In 2011, led by The Wilmington Journal, the NNPA, and NNPA Foundation led by Dorothy Leavell, publisher of Chicago Crusader, adopted seeking pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten as a project.
The film is written, produced and narrated by Cash Michaels, staff writer for The Wilmington Journal; and editor/chief reporter for The Carolinian Newspaper in Raleigh.
Following the documentary will be a question and answer session, then a blue ribbon panel discussion, “Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and the Role of the Black Press, Black Church and the Black Community.”
Among the confirmed panelists is the Rev. Benjamin Chavis, Jr., leader of the Wilmington Ten. George Curry, executive editor of the NNPA, will moderate.
Also to be discussed, “A Black Newspaper on Every Coffee Table.”
There will also be exhibits on display at UNC – Wilmington.
A special Black Tie Gala will be held later that evening in Daniels Hall at Cape Fear Community College honoring former Gov. Beverly Perdue - who granted pardons of innocence to the ten falsely convicted freedom fighters; NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber – who helped to lead the public effort to pardon the Wilmington Ten; and others.
Rev. Chavis is the scheduled keynoter.
Among the scheduled performers is renowned spiritual vocalist Lynnette Barber of Lincoln Park Holiness Church in Raleigh, who sings the title song, “That Freedom” in “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Per-person tickets to the gala cost $100.00, with proceeds going to the nonprofit RS and TC Jervay Foundation, a 501 c (3). Donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Funds will be used for scholarships and research related to the history of African-Americans in southeastern North Carolina.
Corporations and community groups are invited to support this historic fundraising event through the purchase of sponsor packages, ranging from $1,500 to $50,000. Sponsor package benefits include hosted tables for your guests and recognition at the event, and in related advertising promotional materials.
The deadline for ads for the special souvenir program book is Feb. 7th.
For more information contact Shawn Thatch at The Wilmington Journal at email@example.com, or call 910-762-5502.