Just about every day, from small town American to densely populated communities all over the globe, whenever rejection, resentment and an overwhelming desire to rebel collide, the revolution gets televised. In “Walls That Bleed,” filmmaker Michael Anthony immediately pulls viewers into a revolution, that emotionally weaves in and out of a violent race riot in a place rarely mentioned in the many books and specials that skim the surface of the reality and brutality of the Civil Rights Movement. “I don’t know why white people would want to kill Martin Luther King. Seems like you would have kept him alive because he was keeping people non-violent,” says James McNair.
We can all name at least one horrific attempt to end racial tension and abuse in places like Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana. But Anthony’s film, through a combination of black and white news footage, radio announcements, candid and emotional interviews with people like James McNair, puts a microscope on Greensboro, NC, 1969. “We got attacked by police,” says James McNair. “Walls That Bleed” explains why racial tension exploded in Greensboro, resulting in 650 infantry National Guardsmen, local police and Vietnam Veterans positioning themselves around college dorms on North Carolina A & T’s campus, firing shots into and around those dorms, leaving 20-year-old college student, Willie Grimes dead, his murder still unsolved, and several Guardsmen injured.
In an ironic twist, the 1969 riot tore through the streets, nearly 10 years after the non-violent, widely effective 1960 sit-in at F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter. Four North Carolina State A & T students, Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain, endured insults, assaults and danger to demand desegregation of the “white only” lunch counter section. Although successful, the accomplishment put a bitter taste in the mouths of racist whites and on some level intensified fear in some African-Americans. As one woman puts it in the film, “the times had changed and North Carolina was dealing with a different generation that felt like the time for being non-violent was over.”
“Walls That Bleed” is sure to spark national debate and perhaps open a genuine conversation across the world about race, equality, and social class anxiety, as well as the risk of ignoring all three.
“Walls That Bleed” is screening in Washington, DC today at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium at 5 p.m.
Here’s a link to the “Walls That Bleed” Web site: http://www.wallsthatbleedthemovie.com.
Log on here for ticket information: http://www.fandango.com/wallsthatbleed_119839/movieoverview
You can of course follow the film’s progress and show your support by “LIKING” the “Walls That Bleed” Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wallsthatbleed.
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