The idea began with a glimmer of film concept and with two men nearing the end of their lives.
One of the men was my father, who died three months ago at the age of 93. He had been a journalist and a scientist and as he drew closer to the end of his life his mental faculties, which had always been his greatest pride, began to succumb to the ravages of dementia and alzheimers.
The second man, Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, is the same age as my dad. I met C.T. after Katrina when he came to New Orleans to help in the recovery. Over the next couple of years, we shared meals, vans, round tables (and square ones), working together with a wide array of pastors and church people around the country, seeking to help rebuild the city one church community at a time.
In the time we spent together I learned more than I had ever imagined I could about race and culture and faith and politics. I also came to know C.T. as a friend, and quite literally the truest, most shining human being I have ever known. Riding in a crowded van through Ohio was like traveling with an angel. Actually, it was better than that!
About a year ago, as I visited with my dad, I had an epiphany when I realized my dad and C.T. were the same age. In both cases these men were leaving the earth and taking vast sums of knowledge, spirit, and wisdom with them. As I pondered it more I realized that there was a large group of folks, elders of the African American Freedom Movement that were also growing older and moving on. I had just finished my latest documentary film (Raven Awakens) and I was fishing about trying to conceive my next project.
Later, as I was watching a newscast on a Black Lives Matter protest it hit me…
The young leaders of BLM are following a direct line running from the elders of The Movement through the decades leading to the hope of Barack Obama and through that to the terrible, regressive territory where we now find ourselves.
Right now we need the energy and the militancy of BLM, and we need the guidance and wisdom of the elders who have gone before.
But the elders are disappearing.
As I had that thought, it dawned on me that to interview these surviving lions of the movement, get their thoughts, ideas, memories and experiences recorded for a first person “this is what I thought and did” perspective was as vital a task as anything I had faced in my lifetime, maybe the most vital.
So, that was the origin of The Beloved Community Project. I began researching, organizing video shoots, and seeking out advisors and supporters.
As the development side has unfolded over the last year it has become clear that in addition to gathering this material it needed a way to get into the hands and before the eyes and ears of the people who need it right now. Activists, educators, politicians, youth and adults.
It needs a community.
Well… ya think? It’s called The Beloved COMMUNITY for a reason.
So here we are with the new edition of The Beloved Community Project. The opportunity and imperative to gather interviews with the key people (both leaders and grass roots supporters) remains, but we are also seeking to build a community of people who can be, essentially, co-producers.
We want, and need, your thoughts, your ideas, your resources and connections, and even your help in gathering interviews.
We want to know what you need to see and hear and we want to know how it affects you as part of the struggle today.
It is my ultimate hope that by crowd-sourcing the project we achieve several goals:
• Input from people on the ground in the struggle today.
• Resources for finding and interviewing people from The Movement, whom we might otherwise miss.
• Practical assistance from other people with media skills (amateur and professional) who are interested in helping us gather these vital interviews.
• A community of people who contribute to, and utilize, the resources we develop to further their own work and mission.
The Beloved Community is YOU!
We need you.
We need your heart, your soul, your mind, and your eyes, ears, feet and hands.
Please JOIN us today.
Let’s build this Beloved Community together.