Executive producer/writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault speak onstage during ‘The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’ panel discussion at the PBS portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2013 in Beverly Hills
*Before Charlayne Hunter Gault became an award winning journalist and influential figure in television news, she was a news story herself, for being among the first two black students, along with Hamilton Holmes, admitted to the University of Georgia.
Their entry into history books in 1961 was only after a series of court challenges, exhaustive media attention and violent demonstrations on the Athens campus. Gault recounts the harrowing experience in an upcoming episode of PBS’s “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”
The six-part series, which premiered Tuesday, is the first to trace the entire history of black people in America, with Gault’s story among those included to rep the post-Brown vs. Board of Education era of racial integration.
Charlayne Hunter Gault and Hamilton Holmes integrate the University of Georgia (Athens, GA, 1961)
Gault, who has written a black history book for teens, hopes Skip Gates’ “Many Rivers” will be viewed by both the young and non-black audiences.
“I just think that a lot of the reaction that we get today in this cacophony of racial hatred results from ignorance, and so I think that Skip’s series will help that,” she told us at the TCA Summer Press Tour. “I’ve done a history of the Civil Rights movement for young readers, and when I go around to the high schools, the kids know two names, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.”
Below, Charlayne Hunter Gault talks a bit about breaking the color barrier at the University of Georgia.
“African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,” airs Tuesdays from 8 to 9 p.m. through Nov. 26 on PBS. Watch a preview of episode 2 below.
*NBC’s veteran reporter Tom Brokaw is in the cross hairs of at least one conservative radio host for comparing silence on gun violence to not speaking out during segregation.
Brokaw, referred to as “Broke-Jaw” by radio host Mark Levin, had made the comments Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” comparing the “good people” who stayed in their homes and remained silent as civil rights activists were beaten in the streets to those who choose to remain silent on today’s issue of gun violence.
“Have you lost your mind Tom Brokaw?” Levin asked. “Do you realize what an idiot you are? Have you lost your mind? I mean, ladies and gentlemen, the Second Amendment is a civil right. Does this man have any context for what he’s talking about? Of course not. He’s just popping off. Shut up! All of you, just shut up! You don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about.”
He continued on to chastise Brokaw, saying, “The Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, Tommy. The Bill of Rights. To protect the individual. This isn’t Selma, Bull Connor, people in their homes who are being quiet. People all across America, they are speaking with their actions. They’re exercising their right under the Constitution’s Second Amendment, their individual civil liberty right, and they’re purchasing guns in record numbers, purchasing ammo in record numbers, because they’re concerned that their individual, civil, constitutional right will be violated.”
Levin also took exception with the newsman invoking the 1960s civil rights battle: “What the hell does this have to do with Selma or the south in the 1960s or the Klan takeover or the cult? What are you talking about? Do you realize how pathetic you sound? Absolutely unbelievable… So now, if you mind your own business, you purchase firearms, you purchase bullets to go in the firearms, whether you’re a hunter, a sportsman, for self-defense or whatever, whatever your reason, as long as it’s lawful, you purchase firearms and ammunition, you’re like Bull Connor? You’re like the Klan?”
“This man is a disgrace,” the radio host continued. “I don’t care if they keep putting these guys up on pedestals. They don’t deserve it. They’re a disgrace. He’s a disgrace.”
A day earlier, Levin went in on CBS newsman Bob Schieffer for comparing taking on the gun lobby to defeating the Nazis in WWII.
On his radio show, he continued:
Ladies and gentlemen, Washington is digging in. When I say Washington, Tom Brokaw is a creation of Washington. He may be up in New Jersey at MSNBC doing this, but he’s a creation of Washington. They’re digging in. Scarborough, little irrelevant gnat. Digging in. Schieffer, digging in. The NBC crowd, the CBS crowd, the ABC crowd, just listen to the broadcasts. CNN, and of course, MSLSD, MSLSD which would have been perfect during the times of like Brezhnev because Brezhnev and MSNBC, you know, their ideologies they’re almost like one and the same, but that for another day.
So the point is this: they’re digging in because you refuse to surrender your God-given inalienable rights and your Constitutional right to big government. And Tom Brokaw and Schieffer and all the rest of them are about big government, big government. This is why they defend Obama, this is why they defend the Democrats, this is why there’s not a federal program unless it has to do with the military, national security, law enforcement that they would support reducing then your respect. These are the phonies who are bringing news to you and are bring news to you. The absolute phonies.
*The black church has been a pillar in the black community for ages, being that beacon of light and safe haven for the weary.
Through its trials and tribulations, the Church has stood its ground as a social and spiritual resource for African American communities. Yet, with these acknowledgments comes the question of what exactly the Black Church should look like in the twenty-first century.
In his book, “Standing True to Our God? A Young, Evangelical’s Perspective on Reformation in the Black Church,” J. L. Moore highlights several examples of how facets of the modern black church experience are not reflecting the teachings of Christ and His apostles. In the spirit of love and appreciation for the Black Church in America, he implores African American Christians to strongly consider the need for biblical reformation in five crucial areas
*PBS kicks off its Black History Month programming this week with the premiere of “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock.”
The name Daisy Bates doesn’t ring a bell? The filmmaker, too, had no idea who she was when she first came across Bates’ story in the portrait book, “I Dream a World.” Published in the 1990s, the coffee table tome featured profiles of 75 outstanding African American women.
“It’s a fantastic book, but Daisy’s story is the one that I really connected to, and it jumped out at me because I didn’t know her story,” says Sharon La Cruise, the documentary’s director.
Daisy Bates was, in fact, the engine that drove the “Little Rock Nine.” The native of Huttig, Arkansas played a leading role in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957, and her involvement came with as much pride as it did controversy.
Bates, who regularly wrote about violations of the Supreme Court’s desegregation laws in her husband’s newspaper, became the chief guide and adviser to the nine black students attempting to enroll at the all-white school. But, as their story attracted more media interest, Bates found herself the de facto spokesperson for the effort on an international scale – which caused some folks in town to believe she was getting “too big for her britches,” as one person in the film put it.
Filmmaker Sharon La Cruise speaks onstage during the Independent Lens Examines Black History Month panel during the PBS portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on Jan. 5, 2012 in Pasadena, California
Eventually, a civil rights victory was claimed when the National Guard swooped in to assist the nine in entering the school – and Bates was heralded as a national hero. In 1963, she was one of only three women to speak at the historic March on Washington. But over time, her name was mentioned less and less, with current text books all but ignoring her contribution to the movement.
“I just couldn’t understand, because I studied history and I thought I knew it extensively, especially African American history. I didn’t know why I didn’t know anything about her,” said La Cruise. “So I read her autobiography. I wrote her a letter. I said basically what I’ve just said, to her, that I didn’t understand why I didn’t know about her, and I want to know more about her, and I thought her life would make this incredible film.”
“Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” begins airing tonight at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens.” [Airdates and times vary from market to market, so check local listings.]
Daisy Bates with copies of her memoir "The Long Shadow of Little Rock," and plaques from the NAACP for the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock. A large picture of Daisy and the nine students hangs in the background. They are L-R, front row: Thelma Mothershed, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Gloria Ray; and row 2 left to right: Jefferson Thomas, Melba Pattillo, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls, Daisy Bates, and Ernest Green.
La Cruise never got a chance to meet Bates. When the filmmaker first reached out to her in the mid-90s, she was already in declining health after suffering several strokes.
“At the time, I didn’t realize she was not that healthy,” said La Cruise. “She wrote back through her attorney that she would love to explore the idea, and then at the time, I worked on a short film in grad school at NYU, but I had never done a film. So I spent about two years kind of festering, trying to figure out how I would do this film and unfortunately wasted a lot of time, and then she passed away (on Nov. 4, 1999, from a heart attack) before I could actually meet her in person.
Once La Cruise got enough of a game plan to move forward with the film, she says the production process was like “jumping off a clip without a parachute.” Listen below.
[Scroll down for the trailer and details of an interactive screening event from Central High with filmmaker Sharon La Cruise.]
On Friday, Feb. 3, PBS is producing an interactive screening of “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” from Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. Moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan and featuring filmmaker Sharon La Cruise, the event will take place here Friday at 11:30 AM PT / 1:30 PM CT / 2:30 PM ET.
*A soon-to-be-auctioned Beatles contract for a 1965 California concert reveals that the group took a firm stand in support of the era’s civil rights movement, refusing to play before a segregated audience.
The contact, which is signed by the Liverpool group’s manager, Brian Epstein, specifies that they “not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience” for their August 31, 1965, show at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.
The document will be auctioned on Sept. 20 by Nate D. Sanders in Los Angeles, reports Reuters.
The Beatles took a public stand on civil rights in 1964, during their first American tour, when they refused to perform at a segregated concert at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. City officials relented, allowing the stadium to be integrated, and the band did take the stage for that show.
The Cow Palace concert was part of the Beatles’ third major tour of the United States. Signed on March 24, 1965, the contract guaranteed the band $40,000 against gross box office receipts of more than $77,000.
In addition to the desegregation requirement, the agreement called for at least 150 uniformed police officers for protection and a special drumming platform for Ringo.
The contract is estimated to sell between $3,000 and $5,000.