ITTA BENA (September 13, 2012) –
The acclaimed documentary, Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, will be premiered at Mississippi Valley State University’s (MVSU) on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in the Social Sciences Building Auditorium, preceded by a 6:00 p.m. reception. This community event marks the reinstitution of the Aaron Henry Scholars Lecture Series on Race, Politics, Gender and Culture, which provides Valley students and the Delta community an opportunity for dialogues with scholars and experts on relevant topics.
“I would like to thank Ms. Johnson for coming to Valley to share true Delta history and her grandfather’s story, and her willingness to exchange dialogue. The leadership of Dr. Kathryn Green, Coordinator of the History Program in the Department of Social Sciences and the planning team assures relevant academic programming exposes our students to an environment where they can see careers for historians in addition to teaching is a valuable part of a Valley education,” said University President Donna H. Oliver.
Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story was inspired by Mississippi: A Self Portrait an almost-forgotten film from the 1960s by Frank De Felitta a filmmaker whose documentary was about the changing times in the American South and the racial tensions of life in the Mississippi Delta during the civil rights struggle. The film caused controversy brought on in part by a moving scene featuring Booker Wright, a black waiter in a whites-only restaurant who became a restaurant and nightclub owner in Greenwood, Mississippi. In that film, Mr. Wright spoke powerfully and honestly about the brutal racism of the segregated south.
Frank De Felitta’s quest to resurrect his father’s documentary inspired the idea of a new Mississippi film project, which led him to Yvette Johnson, the granddaughter of Mr. Wright’s. With Mr. De Felitta as producer and Ms. Johnson as co-producer, the new documentary uses interviews with friends, family, Greenwood residents and officials to talk about Mr. Wright’s life and struggles. It offers contemporary voices and views on Greenwood and race relations. Dr. Green, a Valley faculty member, was brought into the project by Yvette Johnson, as historical researcher and local point person for the Delta interview portions of the film.
"I couldn't be more proud of my grandfather, Booker Wright,” said Yvette Johnson. “During a dangerous, tumultuous time, he spoke with boldness, eloquence, and heartache about what it felt like to be on the receiving end of racism. He's my hero."
The screening of Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story is free and open to the public.
Initially created by the state legislature in 1946 to train teachers for rural and elementary schools in the Mississippi Delta, Mississippi Valley State University is one of eight state supported institutions for higher education in the state of Mississippi’s consortium of Institutions for Higher Learning (IHL).
Mississippi Valley State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's and master’s degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Mississippi Valley State University.
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