Blood Done Sign My Name– from the New York Times

[An excellent book by Tim Tyson, now issued as film which sounds very promising -- Lew Rosenbaum]

North Carolina as It Was, Split and Seething

Paladin

A scene from “Blood Done Sign My Name,” which opens on Friday and features Nate Parker, center.

By GODFREY CHESHIRE, Published: February 12, 2010 in the New York Times

WHETHER or not North Carolinians are more inclined than other Americans to follow Thomas Wolfe’s injunction to “look homeward,” some past the age of 50 have personal reasons to cast a retrospective glance on the state of their youth. It was a time when a century of Jim Crow laws and segregation were being challenged by the advocates of civil rights in a struggle that was often more bitter and bloody than popular history likes to admit.

Paladin

Jeb Stuart, the director of “Blood Done Sign My Name.”

For Robert K. Steel, the re-evaluation of his placid recollections of the white-picket-fence world of Durham, N.C., accelerated in the summer of 2005 when he read Timothy B. Tyson’s “Blood Done Sign My Name.” That acclaimed book recounts how, in 1970, the author’s hometown, Oxford, N.C., erupted in racial turmoil after an all-white jury acquitted a white store owner and one of his sons of the murder of a young black man.

A former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Steel found Dr. Tyson’s work “fascinating and compelling,” he said in an interview in his office in Greenwich, Conn. Though he’d never had an itch for movie producing, he was so struck by the book’s cinematic potential that he urged it on a Greenwich acquaintance and fellow North Carolina native, Jeb Stuart, who has screenwriting credits on Hollywood action hits including “Die Hard” and “The Fugitive.” The result of their collaboration reaches theaters across the Southeast and in other major markets on Friday.

Mr. Stuart also found personal as well as cinematic reasons to connect with the material. Dr. Tyson, who was 11 in 1970, chronicles the struggles that his father, Vernon, a Methodist minister, faced in advocating civil rights progress to a conservative parish. (Vernon Tyson was effectively driven out of Oxford by the end of 1970.) Mr. Stuart’s father was a Presbyterian minister who faced similar trials in Gastonia, N.C.

When Mr. Steel and Mr. Stuart met with Dr. Tyson to discuss turning “Blood Done Sign My Name” into a movie, with Mr. Stuart as writer and director, the author was initially leery of turning over his work to a Hollywood filmmaker bearing the name of a Confederate general. (Mr. Stuart was nicknamed for, but not descended from, the rebel cavalry officer J. E. B. Stuart.) But the men soon discovered they agreed on what the movie should avoid.

“One of the goals was not to make ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ” Mr. Stuart said in an interview at Mr. Steel’s Greenwich office. “What always happens in the way Hollywood tells these stories is that the white guy saves the day. I did not want to fall into that trap. The Tysons got run out of town. Tim’s dad is one of my heroes in this movie, but he’s not Gregory Peck. He’s not going to make it all right for everybody.”

Besides being a fan of “The Fugitive” Dr. Tyson was happy to learn that he and Mr. Stuart both loathe movies like “Mississippi Burning” and “Ghosts of Mississippi,” in which conflicts between good and bad white people overshadow the actions of blacks. Interviewed by phone from his current home in Durham, where he teaches African-American studies at Duke University, Dr. Tyson said that Hollywood’s distortions have helped reinforce the gauzy mythology of the struggles of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and others.

“We have this sugarcoated confection of the civil rights movement in popular memory,” he said. “It’s interracial, it’s nonviolent, and it’s successful. Nobody ever opposed it. In this rendition the civil rights movement is largely a call to America’s conscience that America pretty much answered.” The reality, he said, was more complex.

“The sit-ins swept out of North Carolina and across the South in the spring of 1960, and there were practically no grown-ups in the United States who thought right away that it was a good idea, but the young people just did it anyway. Most Americans thought it was bad and crazy. In 1961 the Freedom Riders rolled through the region, criticized sharply by the Kennedy administration as well as the Southern politicians, denounced in emphatic terms by The New York Times, and three-quarters of Americans disapproved.”

Many minds changed in the next few years, he noted, but even by 1970 much had not changed. In Oxford the movie theaters were still segregated. Downtown businesses sold to African-Americans but would hire them only as janitors. Public pools and recreation areas had been closed to keep them out. Thus, in May of that year, when a young black Vietnam veteran named Henry Marrow was beaten and killed on an Oxford street by three white men, an incident watched by several witnesses, the town was ready for an explosion. As the movie shows, the trial of two of the men was of intense concern to 22-year-old Ben Chavis (played by Nate Parker), a black Oxford native who had recently returned to teach high school after having become a civil rights organizer while in college in Charlotte, N.C.

“The verdict came back on a Sunday morning,” recalled Dr. Chavis, now 62, in an interview at the Manhattan offices of Hip Hop Summit, an organization he heads with the record mogul Russell Simmons. Hearing that the white men had been exonerated, “people were angry, so, so angry,” he said. “Probably the hardest speech of my life was back at the First Baptist Church. I just asked the question: Why? Not why do the whites do what they do, but why do we do what we do? Why do we accept it?”

The days of passive acceptance, it turned out, were over. In the wake of the acquittals, crimes aimed at white businesses included the firebombing of several tobacco warehouses, attacks that suggested the skills of Mr. Marrow’s fellow Vietnam veterans.

Dr. Chavis said, however, that he believes the actions that brought change were the legal ones. He led a protest march from Oxford to the state capital, which helped lay the groundwork for a boycott of white businesses that lasted 18 months and finally forced full integration on Oxford.

Dr. Chavis echoed remarks by Dr. Tyson in saying that he believes the struggles depicted in both the book and the movie are not particular to North Carolina or the region.

Malcolm X once said that the South is anything south of the Canadian border. On certain issues the whole country is the South.”

Peoples Tribune now on line

Welcome to the People’s Tribune On-line Edition, February, 2010

The People’s Tribune is devoted to the proposition that an economic system that can’t or won’t feed, clothe and house its people ought to be and will be changed. To that end, this paper is a tribune of the people. It is the voice of millions struggling for survival. It strives to educate politically those millions on the basis of their own experience. It is a tribune to bring them together, to create a vision of a better world, and a strategy to achieve it. Below is a listing of the February 2010  articles. To view the PDF of the print edition,CLICK HERE <http://www.peoplestribune.org>

COVER STORY: THE PEOPLE NEED THEIR OWN PARTY

People’s Tribune: “Millions eke out an existence, while profits for America’s 360 billionaires and their corporations soar. Such cataclysmic events set the stage for political polarization – the separation in thinking of the people from their rulers and the opportunity for a class-conscious movement for power over the corporations. . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.03.html>READ

EDITORIAL: WILL YOU BECOME A DISPOSABLE WORKER?

People’s Tribune:  “Two recent headlines in the corporate press tell the story. In Business Week, the article was headlined “The Disposable Worker.” And in USA Today: “Jobless Citizens Seeking Day Labor – More Look for Work Alongside Migrants.” Taken together, they reveal the situation facing more and more workers: Nobody’s job is safe and no job is permanent . . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.02.html>READ

AVATAR: BEYOND CGI : A MOVIE FOR THE AGES

Andy Willis:  “As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the blockbuster movie AVATAR is a pointed arrow aimed at the heart of exploitation. Is there an important message in this visually incredible movie? Absolutely.    .  . .  “<http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.04.html&gt; READ

WARNING SIGNS

Dee Allen:

“When land is left vacant,
Pitch up a tent on poles.
Drive ropes and stakes into the ground to secure it,
. . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.04.html#two>READ

REVIEW OF PBS FRONTLINE PROGRAM, “CARD GAME”

John Moran: Scoundrels have patriotism, lies and an army of straight men to sell their world view. The program “Card Game” is an enlightening example of stating the obvious. In my view, this is a desperate attempt to quiet the righteous rage the American people have been expressing over the bailout . . . <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.04.html#three>READ

DETROIT UTILITY & WATER FIGHT UPDATE

Marian Kramer: The protests are continuing in Detroit over the 27,000 or so utility cut offs  . . ”  <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.05.html>READ

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE NOT ALONE

Cathleen Williams and Sandy Perry: “On January 20, thousands of protesters gathered in San Francisco from all across the West Coast .   .  . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.06.html>READ

THE RIVER

Sarah Menefee:

shoulder to shoulder
face by beautiful face
marching thru the rain

oh my people
oh my sisters and brothers
come from everywhere
and from every struggle
each with a singular heart
to add to the work of justice
. . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.06.html#two>READ

OUR PEOPLE

Cathleen Williams:

Our people are writing this poem
an unusual people
in their borrowed clothes
in their paper clothes and cardboard slippers
together leaning forward and going on.
. . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.06.html#two>READ

CABRINI EVICTIONS PART I

Joseph Peery: “After a holiday moratorium, Cook County Sheriffs Officers resumed evictions in the Chicago area.  One of their targets was Cabrini Green, where as many as 14 families may have been evicted.  The following is an excerpt from an interview with Willie Fleming, a long time resident of Cabrini Green and an organizer for the Chicago Anti- Eviction Campaign .  .  . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.07.html&gt; READ

D.C. SAFETY NET IN PERIL, HOMELESS CHANGE TACTICS: HOUSING TAKEOVERS PLANNED

Eric Sheptock : “In Washington, D.C., homeless advocates align their activities with the annual budgetary cycle. During the February-May budget hearings, advocates for the poor and homeless do their best to have sufficient tax revenue allocated for the populations they serve . . . <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.07.html#two>READ

ALL EMPLOYEES DESERVE A LIVING WAGE

Gloria Slaughter:  “On Monday, January 11, 2010, school employees, parents, students and community members stood together outside the DeKalb County Board of Education building to protest the $15,000 raise that the DeKalb County School Superintendent received on January 4th. The School Board voted 8 – 1 to approve the increase in salary. The Superintendent receives a $2,500 a month expense account   . . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.08.html>READ

SHOULD WOMEN UNDER 50 GET MAMMOGRAMS? PART 2: THE ANSWER IS PREVENTION

Dr. Isaac Wolfe:”The debate about mammograms has been presented as a discussion on how to save lives by optimizing the identification of what is the best way to save lives.  However, while the early detection of breast cancer certainly saves lives, the best way to treat cancer is to prevent it.  This was ignored during the recent debate . . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.08.html#two>READ

RACE TO NOWHERE: MAYORAL TAKEOVER BID STALLED IN MILWAUKEE . . . FOR NOW.

Todd Alan Price: “Over the last several months, a soap opera has played out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Taking place in the Milwaukee Public School District, the storyline, includes dismantling the elected school district, appointing an unelected advisory board, and cutting costs (following the orders of an outside private firm, the notorious McKinsey Report on Education). Mayoral Takeover, as it is called, would save the city some revenue, the business community would prosper. . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.09.html>READ

NO CUTS, NO FEES:  PUBLIC EDUCATION MUST BE FREE!

Steve Miller:  “Last fall, the Regents increased fees for California’s nine public universities by 32%. Fees were increased by about the same amount for all the states, 3.5 million students attending public higher education. But the Regents had already spent the UC increases before they voted. How could this be? The increases had been “securitized,”   . . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.09.html#two>READ

HELL IS PRIVATIZED IN HAITI

Steve Miller:  “Many of the people reporting on the radio from Haiti talk about how hard the post-earthquake situation is on the poor. For the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, this is the vast majority of the people. There is water, the reports go, but it is only for sale on the streets as bottled water. The public delivery of water, already quite decimated by years of government cutbacks, is non-existent – unless you can pay. Food is available, too, but only at a price . . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.10.html>READ

OH HAITI

Sarah Menefee:

oh Haiti! you are the battered face
of what we do and what we are

poorest of poor:  poor made poorer
crushed and abandoned with
the vultures of exploitation
wheeling around your broken bones
dipping their beaks in your blood
sending in their soldiers and guns
to keep you again
from what you need:
a scrap of food a rag to lie on
when all the blankets are laid across
broken bodies
<http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.10.html#two>READ

EZILI

Jack Hirschman:

the world
responds
to the horror
with what
you are—Love

Ezili
the eyelid of a dead
child of nine
feels your
kiss
<http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.10.html#two>MORE

HIP HOP CONGRESS PARTNERS WITH U.S. SOCIAL FORUM & ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE FOR THEIR MIDWEST SUMMIT. . .   <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.11.html>READ

HIP-HOP CONGRESS – HAITI BENEFIT SONG – (SPIT 8BARS)- ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE PEOPLE OF HAITI . . . <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.11.html#two>READ

GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE ADEQUATE DRUG ADDICTION REHAB FACILITIES

Lenette Evans: “On December 11, almost 2 months ago, my step-son Bill H. Gardner IV, was in a tragic accident with his friends. They were traveling on Red Arrow Highway near Sawyer, Michigan. . .” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.05.html#two>READ

BENTON HARBOR, MI

WHIRLPOOL – THE GLOBAL BLOODSUCKERS – WINS IN FEDERAL COURT

Dorothy Pinkney: “Whirlpool, a racist global bloodsucker, continues to disrupt the community by building the golf course, on 530 acres of prime land, centered around luxury housing. This is a Billion dollar project designed to drive all Black Benton Harbor residents from the city. . . ” <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.12.html>READ

HOW CAN THE POOR UNITE

People’s Tribune: “The race question in America has always been used to divide and control the working class as a whole.In the past, America’s poor could not unite in a struggle against the corporations, despite a common poverty. To maintain the divisions among the workers, the powers that be gave petty social privileges to the white poor over the Black poor, making unity impossible. People could not unite when they were unequally oppressed and exploited. . . “<http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.12.html#two>READ

COMMUNITY QUOTES . . . <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.12.html#two>READ

NEW PAMPHLET: THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE CORPORATIONS . . <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.12.html#four&gt;. READ

YOU NEED TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE PEOPLE’S TRIBUNE!   <http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2010.02/PT.2010.02.12.html#five>READ

This is the newspaper that everyone is talking about… it consistently brought the Pinkney case forward. If you are about truth and justice, then this is the paper you need to read. The People’s Tribune is the voice of the people. It is a beacon of light, pointing the way forward. Its pages are open to the fighters for a just America. Send a $20 donation for a one year subscription via paypal at peoplestribune.org or to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524

For more information, contact the People’s Tribune, 800-691-6888, email <mailto:info@peoplestribune.org>info@peoplestribune.org or visit the web at <http://www.peoplestribune.org>

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