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The Arts

Voting Rights Film

Danny Glover heads ensemble cast of the TNT Original film:

FREEDOM SONG

Danny Glover stars in and executive-produces FREEDOM
SONG, a powerful new Turner Network Television (TNT)
original film written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams), which will premiere on Turner Network Television(TNT) on Sunday, February 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Vondie Curtis Hall (Chicago Hope), Vicellous Reon Shannon (The Hurricane), Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale) and Glynn Turman (How Stella Got Her Groove Back) also star in the 2-1/2 hour film, which tells the compelling story of the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on a small Mississippi town.

Robinson and Stanley Weiser wrote the script. Sean
Daniel (The Mummy), Robinson, Glover and Carolyn McDonald
(TNT's Buffalo Soldiers) serve as executive producers;
Amanda DiGiulio Richmond is the producer. FREEDOM SONG is an Alphaville/Carrie production.

FREEDOM SONG is set in the small town of Quinlan,
Mississippi, in 1961. The Civil Rights Movement is
in full force, making its way through the cities, towns and rural communities of the deep South. The story is told
through the eyes of Shannon's character, an African-American teenager inspired by the arrival of an organizer from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The young man joins the crusade to desegregate Quinlan, even though his
involvement threatens to destroy his relationship
with his father (Glover).

SNCC trains Owen and a group of his school friends
to lead peaceful protests against segregation. The protests include
sit-ins at public buildings, such as libraries, bus
stations and businesses. They are also taught to help
African- Americans register to vote -- an act that typically is met with brutal resistance by the forces of segregation.
In chronicling the effect of the movement on the
volunteers,
their families, and their community, FREEDOM SONG
places heroism squarely on the shoulders of the local
people -- the unsung volunteers who risked their lives to affect change at the grassroots level.

Phil Robinson: "We chose to focus on a small town
because we
thought if we tried to tell the larger story of the
Civil Rights Movement, we could only scratch the surface of such a broad canvas. Instead, we decided to pick the smallest possible corner and try to get deeper into the people's lives. This one brief period in Quinlan had successes, failures, beatings, jailings and a murder. It was an extraordinary microcosm of the Civil Rights
Movement."

Robinson crafted the script from hundreds of
first-hand accounts by former members of SNCC. Civil rights veterans such as Bob Moses, former SNCC chairman Chuck McDew, Dave Dennis, Bob Zellner and historian Dr. Vincent Harding served as consultants on FREEDOM SONG. The teenaged children of
McDew and Dennis played extras in one scene, in
which they
were given the unique opportunity to walk a day in
their fathers' shoes.

Phil Robinson: "When you talk to people who were on
the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, it's
stunning how often they point to "the elders" -- the men and women who never marched, or sat-in, or rode Freedom busses --
as the great sources of strength and inspiration and wisdom that fueled the movement. Together with the energy of the young students, many of whose names have never been
recorded by history, they were true American heroes, and we felt their story had never adequately been told on film. Their courage and accomplishment has inspired freedom movements all over the world -- from South African to Tienanmen Square."

FREEDOM SONG's innovative score is by noted gospel
group Sweet Honey in the Rock (founded by SNCC veteran Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon) and Academy Awardr-winning composer James Horner (Titanic). This marks Horner and Robinson's third collaboration, following Field of Dreams and Sneakers.
Seminal pop singer/songwriter Carole King wrote and
performs the end title song "Song Of Freedom" with Sweet
Honey In The Rock. Phil Alden Robinson and Sean Daniel are Excutive album
producers. The soundtrack was released by Sony
Classical on February 15.

AIRDATES

Premiere:

Sunday, February 27, 2000 at 7 PM (ET/PT)

Encores:

Sunday, February 27 at 9:30 PM (ET/PT)
Sunday, February 27 at 12 Midnight (ET/PT)
Thursday, March 2 at 8:00 PM (ET/PT)
Saturday, March 4 at 10:30 PM (ET/PT)
Sunday, March 5 at 1:00 PM (ET/PT)
Wednesday, March 8 at 10:00 PM (ET/PT)
Saturday, March 11 at 1:00 PM (ET/PT)

-30-

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Along the Color Line

February 2000

White Supremacy in Dixie

By Dr. Manning Marable <mm247@columbia.edu

How far has America actually progressed toward more
constructive race relations? Judging by some recent
events,
not much.

During this year's legal holiday marking the
birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was
invited to
speak at a small, predominantly white Southern
college.
For decades, this school had been racially
segregated, like
other all-white public educational institutions.
The
college's first black faculty member had been hired
only in
the early 1980s. Nevertheless, the initial
reception I
received was friendly and positive, from
administrators,
faculty and representatives of the student
government
association, who had sponsored my visit. Nothing up
to that
point had prepared me for what I would soon
encounter that
evening.

My lecture that night was before an audience of
perhaps 500 people, consisting mostly of students
and a
significant number of African Americans from the
surrounding
community. I spoke about the enduring legacy of
Martin, the
necessity to achieve social justice, and the urgent
need for
constructive dialogue across America's racial chasm.
As I
concluded, most of the audience responded favorably
to the
message, but many sat in silence.

A white male student jumped out of his seat even
before the audience had stopped clapping, and raised
his
hand to ask the first question. When I acknowledged
him,
the white student launched into an attack against
affirmative action, which was characterized as
"reverse
discrimination." He insisted that both he and many
of his
friends had lost scholarships and jobs to
unqualified
minorities. I replied that statistically less than
two
percent of all university scholarships were
"race-based,"
that is, designated for blacks and Hispanics.
Affirmative
action was necessary because job discrimination was
still
rampant, and blacks frequently were unfairly charged
more
for goods and services than whites. I cited one
major study
illustrating that blacks who negotiated and
purchased
automobiles at white car dealerships were charged
significantly more than whites who bought the
identical
cars.

The white student was unimpressed and unapologetic.

His precise words were unclear, but his essential
response
was, "then the blacks ought to shop somewhere else!"

Suddenly, a significant number of white students
burst into
applause, and a few even cheered. Surprised and
saddened, I
quickly responded that this discrimination was
illegal and
morally outrageous, and that blacks shouldn't have
to shop
in another country in order to be treated fairly in
the
market place.

Don't misunderstand my point here. As a middle-aged
black man, I spent many summers in Dixie during the
1960s.
I experienced Jim Crow segregation firsthand, and
white
racism is hardly a new phenomenon to me.

But the white students at this formerly segregated
college had no personal knowledge of what Jim Crow
was
about. They never saw black people being denied the
right
to vote, or signs posted on public restrooms reading
"white"
and "colored." Yet they felt no hesitation, no
restraint,
to proclaim their prerogatives as whites, over and
above any
claims that black people made for equality. In
effect, this
was "white supremacy": blind to the historical
dynamics and
social consequences of racial oppression, jealous of
any
benefits achieved by blacks from civil rights
agitation, and
outraged by the suggestion that racial minorities
should be
compensated for their exploitation. The twisted
logic of
white supremacy is that reformers who champion
racial
equality and social justice are the "real racists."
And as
I subsequently learned, a number of white students
were
e-mailing administrators and others the next
morning, after
my talk, demanding to know why this black "racist"
was
invited to speak at their campus!

What particularly struck me by this incident was the
deep anger displayed by some whites in the audience.
One
can disagree with someone else's political
perspective, yet
behave in a civil manner. Something I had said, or
perhaps,
what I represented, had generated white rage
bordering on
irrational hatred.

This same kind of white bigotry has been at the
heart of the recent public controversy over the
flying of
the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina
statehouse. When the NAACP called for the flag's
removal,
State Senator Arthur Ravenel referred to the
organization as
"the National Association of Retarded People." When
this
racist remark generated widespread outrage, Ravenel
apologized to "retarded people" for mistakenly
linking them
with the NAACP.

In January this year, 50,000 people gathered at the
state capital in Columbia, South Carolina, to call
for the
flag's removal. But you'd never guess this from the
hypocritical and opportunistic behavior of the
Republican
Party's presidential candidates. Arizona Senator
John
McCain first described the Confederate battle flag
as "a
symbol of racism and slavery," but soon reversed
himself
claiming it was also "a symbol of heritage."
McCain's top
strategist in the state, Richard M. Quinn, is a
proud leader
of the "neo-Confederacy movement."

Texas Governor George W. Bush's response to the
controversy revealed his political cowardice and
moral
bankruptcy. Bush refused to demand that Ravenel
apologize.
He held a political rally at Bob Jones University, a
racist
institution that forbids interracial dating on
campus, and
is openly hostile to Roman Catholics. Back in
Texas, Bush
has done nothing to prohibit the widespread displays
of
Confederate flags in state buildings and even public
schools.

Why have McCain and Bush refused to condemn a flag
that journalist Brent Staples has described as "a
symbol of
choice among neo-Nazis, skinheads and other bigots?"
For
the same reason that the white students became
outraged when
I talked frankly about the history of white
privilege and
racial discrimination. Many white Americans refuse
to
honestly examine their history, because if they did,
they
would have to confront the moral equivalent of the
Nazis who
ran Germany's death camps. They would have to
acknowledge
the vast murders and rapes by their foreparents, and
their
own complicity in profiting from today's system of
racial
injustice. It is far easier to "boo" a black
historian
lecturing about racial equality, or to denounce the
NAACP as
"retarded." By taking away their rebel flag, we may
force
these whites to finally come to terms with their own
oppressive history, and themselves.

America as a nation has been essentially "silent"
about its racist history. As legal scholar Patricia
J.
Williams eloquently stated in the Nation recently,
"It would
be better to feel ourselves unsettled by the full
truth of
these historical horrors before we commend ourselves
for
having buried the past. As we peer into the
unmarked graves
of the ghosts that haunt America still, perhaps the
path to
peace lies not only in dreaming a better future for
black
children but in awakening white Americans to their
own
history . . . ."


Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and
Political
Science, and the Director of the Institute for
Research in
African-American Studies, Columbia University.
"Along the
Color Line" is distributed free of charge to over
325
publications throughout the U.S. and
internationally. Dr.
Marable's column is also available on the Internet
at
<http://www.manningmarable.net .

-30-


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