film

‘Free State of Jones’ | Review | Habari Gani, America!

Free State of Jones is one of the most overlooked films featured this summer. Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, an AWOL Confederate soldier and Mahershala Ali as Moses, an escaped enslaved African lead the tensions in this Civil War period piece. I viewed this film once for the overall story line and a second time for the details. Sorry, no spoilers here.

Historians and film producers often lean towards either the burdens of old slave narratives or the glorious Civil Rights Era when depicting the African quest for true freedom in America. Besides John Singleton and Gregory Poirier‘s Rosewoodfew mainstream films have touched in detail on the post-Civil War/Reconstruction Black Lives timeline as Director/Writer Gary Ross and Writer Leonard Hartman in the Free State of Jones.

The film juxtapositions the strong presence of self-determined ‘free’ Black lives amidst slavery and segregation against the sub-civil war between wealthy Confederates and poor families, black and white.

The films weakest transitions are forward flashes to a future trial determining the racial identity of Davis Knight, Newton Knight’s second son. The outcome would determine the legality of Davis’s marriage to a White woman according to post-war segregation laws.

Other considerations are the relationship shifts as Blacks are legally free in 1865. Jones County, Mississippi grapples with Military Reconstruction in response to the South’s attempt to re-enslave Blacks through indentured servitude, Blacks gaining voting rights through the 15th Amendment and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Free State of Jones is a worthy film for any historian or film buff to have in their quiver. Below is an excerpt from author Richard Grant’s Smithsonian Institute article regarding the film’s historical value and present day Jones County’s varying sentiments toward Newton Knight and the film.

“ [Professor Wyatt Moulds] described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. ‘It’s generational,’ he said. ‘A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”
[Moulds’s] current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. ‘Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,’ said Moulds. ‘That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.’ “

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Source: The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’ | History | Smithsonian

Advertisements

16 Impactful Movies & Documentaries Every Black American Should See on July 4th Weekend | blackcinemadb

[BlackCinemadb.com] compiled a list of movies from the BlackCinemadb.com database and found some powerful movies and films that make us rethink the notion of freedom from a social, political and psychological perspective (some of which are currently streaming on Netflix). 

Take a look: 16 Impactful Movies & Documentaries Every Black American Should See on July 4th Weekend | blackcinemadb

How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards With Speech on Racism | The New York Times

The most talked about experience Post-BET Awards 2016 is Jesse Williams acceptance speech for the Humanitarian Award. Black America will never forget this one.

The BET Awards Sunday featured tributes to Prince and Muhammad Ali, and a performance by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. But this year, the actor Jesse Williams commanded the spotlight with an impassioned speech calling for an end to police killings, racial inequality and cultural appropriation.

Please click here to view Jesse Williams’s speech in its entirety: JW BET Awards 2016

Source: How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards With Speech on Racism – The New York Times

Jesse Williams Wants You To ‘Stay Woke’ In New Film On Black Lives Matter | HuffPost, Black Voices

STAY WOKE: The Black Lives Matter Movement, a Jesse Williams production.

“Black Lives Matter is in many ways, in its adolescence,” Williams told The Huffington Post about his involvement in the film and his thoughts on various aspects about the movement. He discussed with HuffPost the birth of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, how it subsequently swept the Internet by storm and how the hashtag helped to bring about real change. He also highlighted the daunting feat the movement’s participants have in figuring out how to create lasting change. 

Catch the rest of the article here: STAY WOKE

Source: Jesse Williams Wants You To ‘Stay Woke’ In New Film On Black Lives Matter

Harry Belafonte Gave A Stirring, Scorching Speech To Hollywood About Race | #OYRchallenge

Historical speech given by Harry Belafonte at the 2014 Governors Awards. Featured also, Sidney Poitier. 

Excerpt:

It was Robeson who said, as you heard in the film earlier, ‘Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. They are civilization’s radical voice.’ This Robeson environment sounded like a desired place to be. And given the opportunity to dwell there has never disappointed me.

For my like of activism and commitment to social change, the opposition has been fiercely punitive. Some who’ve controlled institutions of culture and commentary have at times used their power to not only distort truth, but to punish the truth-seekers. With interventions like McCarthyism and the blacklist, Hollywood, too, has sadly played its part in these tragic scenarios. And on occasion, I have been one of its targets.

via Harry Belafonte Gave A Stirring, Scorching Speech To Hollywood About Race.

‘Dear White People’ Director on Making a Comedy About Race and Spike Lee’s Heroism | #OYRchallenge

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Justin Lowe interviews 31-year-old writer-director Justin Simien on his journey to produce “Dear White People” due to hit nationwide theaters on October 24, 2014. Already, the film’s various samplings circulating social media is causing the necessary buzz to go blockbuster. But is this all buzz and no bear? We’ll see next week.

Excerpt:

When you’re writing and directing a satire like Dear White People, how do you blend narrative content and social commentary so that they effectively inform one another?

For me, the thing that I always try to do is to decide very early on what it is the movie’s about at its core. If a scene that says a bunch of things I want it to say can’t hang on the core of the film, then it doesn’t belong there. For me, I felt like the film was really just about the conflict between a person’s identity and their true selves. Everything that happened in a scene has to hang on that conflict and specifically has to hang on that conflict in relation to the arc of the four main characters.

via ‘Dear White People’ Director on Making a Comedy About Race and Spike Lee’s Heroism.

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile | #OYRchallenge

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile

In this comprehensive review of Justin Simien’s first film “Dear White People,” published in “NewBlackMan (in Exile)”, Stephane Dunn teases out the academic and cultural notations guiding this redress on post-racialism. The film’s production and acceptance by the viewing public stands as a step forward in the overt race conversation. The title alone, in earlier years and still today, would have whites and fearful Blacks running the other way. Yet, “Dear White People” is making its rounds in theaters across the United States. Progress at least among some populations.

Excerpt:

Dear White People doesn’t merely copy or recycle still relevant cultural critiques about the racist imagery that infuses film and American culture though Simien certainly traverses some familiar ground – racialized representations in pop culture and warring notions of black authenticity, brought up to date with Aaron McGruder-like Boondock boldness. Dear White People adds its own chapter taking on ‘post-racial’ – ‘post-black’ contemporary discourses. However, that and title aside, its concern is with a range of competing social identities, particularly class and sexuality and the intersection of these with race. Race is as much a device as key theme.- Stephane Dunn

Similar to Ferguson, Missouri’s recent protest in the murder of Michael Brown, among other young Black men and women, some in the African American community sit astraddle the discussion of race. Our scholars and young are eager for the discussion to expand beyond academic discourse. The older and fearful or ‘conservative’ wait to mingle among the crowds that gather or recline – if a spark is not ignited. The mixed bag is historic and similar to any community. Still this historic step forward does not require the total capitulation of the African American community. The mere progress of this film speaks for itself.

Read this review. See the film. Then, bring this conversation of race and identity to your dinner table, clubs, and communities.


via Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile.

Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical ‘Dear White People’ | 107.5 WBLS – Your #1 Source for R&B

The film follows four black students at a fictional Ivy League campus, where racial tensions have reached a boiling point over the party.But for star Tyler James Williams, his biggest problem was his hair.

The actor/rapper, 22, says he wishes he had the script earlier so he would have had time to grow out his character’s Afro. He instead had to sport an uncomfortable weave that he yanked out of his hair one morning.“Then a big patch was missing, so a wig got involved,” Williams tells The News. “It was a low point in my life.”

via Racial attitudes are put under the microscope in satirical ‘Dear White People’ | 107.5 WBLS – Your #1 Source for R&B.

Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward | #OYRchallenge

Gary Webb, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist

Young African Americans during the beginning of the Drug Wars heard whispers of government involvement. It was hush, hush in the media, but on the city streets and in Blacksploitation films like, Cotton Comes to Harlem, this was a reality. In 1996, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb published his book, Dark Alliance, connecting the African American Crack Cocaine explosion to a well planned CIA operation. Major news network entities attacked Webb’s research sending him off into obscurity and later suicide in December 2004.

A new film opening this week, Kill The Messenger, is a tribute to Gary Webb and his outstanding research into the attack on the African American community. History tells us that we are never really ready for the immediate truth. We need time and space, especially in attacks on minority groups, to digest our sins, distance ourselves from blame, and face cold realities we can no longer ignore. RIP, Gary Webb and may the force be with you. #OYRchallenge

More than 18 years have passed since Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb stunned the world with his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series investigating the connections between the CIA, a crack cocaine explosion in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, and the Nicaraguan Contra fighters — scandalous implications that outraged LA’s black community, severely damaged the intelligence agency’s reputation and launched a number of federal investigations. 

via Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward.