Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Home of the Brave:" A must-watch for Women's History Month and the tail-end of "365 Days of African American History"

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - "Home of the Brave" was created and narrated by women about a woman, a movement and a national outrage. I watched this informative, moving film on Court TV this afternoon and highly recommend it. It was especially timely on this lazy Sunday afternoon at the tail end of "365 Days of African American History" and week three of Women's History Month.

Filmmaker Paola di Florio and "Home of the Brave" have earned well-deserved critical acclaim for this story of Viola Liuzzo--described by as "the only white woman murdered in the Civil Rights movement in America"--and expose' of the sordid reasons why we don't know who she is. "Told through the eyes of her children, the film follows the ongoing struggle of an American family to survive the consequences of their mother’s heroism and the mystery behind her killing."

According to relatives, the 39 year-old Detroit Teamster’s wife, coal miner's daughter and mother of five was inspired by the March 7, 1965 "Bloody Sunday" in Selma (when Alabama police so brutally assaulted Civil Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge that ABC television interrupted airing of the war crimes documentary, "Judgment in Nuremberg," to broadcast the attack), and her personal convictions that all people deserved the right to vote. As her son told a journalist, "She wanted equal rights for everyone, no matter what the cost." Mrs. Liuzzo soon thereafter joined thousands of people converging in Selma, Alabama to participate in the march on Montgomery led by Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and paid the ultimate price for her convictions. As describes, "Shortly after the historic Voting Rights March had ended," Mrs. Liuzzo was fatally shot in the head "by a car full of Klansmen, while driving on a lone highway."

Although "Home of the Brave" zooms in on the heroine and her family, the film also sets its sights on the bigger picture, bringing to the forefront several important back stories. These include the important roles that whites played in the Civil Rights movement (and the dangers and defamation braved by some and perpetrated by others), President Johnson's efforts to pass the Voting Rights Act, America's involvement in the Viet Nam "conflict," the confession of a journalist that he was less fearful of the violence and danger he faced in Viet Nam War than he was covering the Civil Rights movement in the American South, reminders about the numerous unnamed heroes who contributed to the Civil Rights movement--in some cases risking their life, livelihood, limbs and liberty, and the efforts of bigots such as J. Edgar Hoover and his g-minions to discredit those whom they feared and/or despised. Filmmaker di Florio's story peeks under the rock that was Hoover's FBI, exposing their slimy acts of domestic terrorism, such as tracking of Mrs. Liuzzo's teamster husband, planting an informant to ride with the Klan members who shot Viola (who might also be the triggerman), launching a smear campaign to assassinate the late Mrs. Liuzzo's character--alleging promiscuity and drug abuse and in the process, amassing an FBI file that was thicker than the Klan's, intimidating into silence the black man who rode in the "shotgun" (passenger) seat of the car she was martyred in, and stonewalling the murder investigation.

It's impossible to watch this film dispassionately. It takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster ride and rips off painful scabs in America's conscience.

Worthwhile related films recommended by Bullfrog Films:
  • The Long Walk To Freedom: A story of 12 ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things in the Civil Rights movement.
  • Counting on Democracy: An examination of the fiasco in Florida in the context of the history of voting rights violations.
  • this black soil: Chronicles the successful struggle of Bayview, VA, to pursue a new vision of prosperity.
  • After Silence: Examines the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WW II, and its relevance to post 9/11 America. ###