Lincoln Ware talked to Lester Holt, NBC weekend anchor and host of NBC’s Dateline, earlier today about the upcoming special “Finding Booker’s Place.” which airs Sunday, July 15 at 7pm.
“Dateline” follows the paths of two strangers, both bent on unraveling family mysteries, who discover that they share a unique bond that is rooted within NBC News and goes back to the most tumultuous days of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. “Dateline” anchor Lester Holt reports.
In 1965, filmmaker Frank De Felitta produced an NBC News documentary about white attitudes towards race in the American South and the tensions of life in the Mississippi Delta during the Civil Rights struggle. The film outraged some Southern viewers, in part, because of a candid and unforgettable scene featuring Booker Wright, a local African-American waiter in Greenwood, MS.
Wright, who worked at a local “whites only” restaurant, went on national television to deliver a stunning and heartfelt monologue about his true feelings about serving the white community, and about his aspirations for his children, who he hoped would grow up free from the prejudice he faced. The repercussions for Booker Wright’s courageous candidness were extreme. He lost his job and was beaten and ostracized by those who considered him “one of their own.”
Almost fifty years after Booker Wright’s television appearance, his granddaughter Yvette Johnson, and Frank De Felitta’s son, director Raymond De Felitta, journey into the Mississippi Delta in search of answers: Who exactly was Booker Wright? What was the mystery surrounding his courageous life and untimely murder? And what role did this 1965 NBC News documentary play in his fate?
While Booker Wright’s name does not appear in history books, Finding Booker’s Place demonstrates that his legacy continues to inspire, many decades later. The broadcast also raises critical questions about society today. Most importantly, in 2012, can we truly say we live in a post-racial America