JOHN SINGLETON’S “ROSEWOOD”, BIRTH OF A NATION AND FORT NEGRO’S FIXICO
Well, it’s Friday night in the City of the Angels, that’s Los Angeles, California . I hope the Angels like helicopters because they have been hovering above, quite a bit lately. I guess it’s the sign of the times. What times are these that we need so many eyes in the sky and boots on the ground?
I heard early this morning on Mr. Stevie Wonder’s “Frontpage” Talk Show that tonight at L.A.’s # 1 Black Book Store, Eso Won Books, a panel of experts would be convened to discuss Mr. Nate Parker’s film “Birth of a Nation”. The experts were : Ayuko Babu (Executive Director, Pan African Film Festival and Commisioner of the California Film Commission), Erin Aubry (Writer, LA Times and LA Weekly),Gary Phillips (Writer and Community Activist) and Jasmyne Cannick (Journalist, Writer and Community Activist. All four of the panelists I might add were scholarly and erudite. When they all spoke to the same question each one had their own take on it an all of there answers were lively and compelling.
The house was packed with standing room only. When I finally got a chance to make a comment , I took the opportunity to speak on the upcoming Bicentennial Commemoration at the British Fort and Historical Landmark on the Apalachicola River in Florida, this site is of course better known as the Negro Fort. The eager attendees hung on every word said by every speaker. They were also interested in what I had to say, just as I was, when noted Director Mr. John Singleton shared his experiences. He addressed the details of what he went through, before, during and after the making of the movie :ROSEWOOD which was produced and released by Warner Brothers Studio in 1997.
The Rosewood plot read like this , “Rosewood, Florida a small. peaceful town with an almost entirely African-American population of middle-class homeowners, until New Years’s Day 1923, when a lynch mob from a neighboring white community storms the town”. It starred, Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames, Jon Voight and Estter Rolle. Since “Rosewood” and “Birth of a Nation” were both Black Resistance Genre films, I conjectured that the audience that had gathered into the Eso Won book store in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles would be interested in the upcoming Commemoration of the Fort Negro Battle and Massacre.
I had to leave before the event was over and on my way out , I stopped to speak with Mr. Singleton about the Negro Fort and I even gave him a copy of the Press Release that had been written by Mr. William L. Katz the Author of the Classic book, “BLACK INDIANS” A Hidden Heritage. Thousands have learned about the Negro Fort from his book including me. So I made my Sidewalk Pitch to Mr. Singleton about Fort Negro even though he told us that he couldn’t get work for 3 years after the making of “ROSEWOOD”.
We must never forget our History lest we repeat it. We certainly don’t want to repeat Tulsa, Rosewood or the Negro Fort.
Honor and Respect, Phil Pompey Fixico, Seminole Maroon Descendant ,