Wednesday, June 30, 2004

One of the best books I have read in recent years was "Of Us the Living," by Myrlie Evers, the widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1963.
I watched the movie version of the book tonight. The Oscar-winning actor Howard Rollins Jr. played Evers, while actress/singer Irene Cara played Mrs. Evers.
The movie was nothing special, even though Medgar Evers was. Unfortunately, the many accomplishments he made during his decade as the head of the NAACP in Mississippi were forgotten due to the circumstances surrounding his death.
The movie was made in 1983. At that time, no one knew who had killed Evers. The man was finally brought to trial in the early 1990s, 30 years after the murder. A courageous assistant district attorney named Bobby DeLaughter filed charges against Byron DeLaBeckwith and he was convicted in 1992 and later died in prison. The best account of that story was in DeLaughter's book, "Never Too Late." It was also the basis for the movie "Ghosts of Mississippi" in 1996 with Alec Baldwin playing DeLaughter and Whoopi Goldberg playing Myrlie Evers.
I wouldn't mind rereading "Of Us the Living" and "Never Too Late," but those are two of the books I donated to the Diamond Middle School Library, and I don't believe they ever made the shelves.
As for the movie version of "Of Us the Living," I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. The acting was just okay with Ms. Cara "running the gamut of emotions from A to B" as the humorist Dorothy Parker once said about a Katharine Hepburn performance, and Rollins not picking up steam until the movie was half over. The best performance was by Lawrence Fishburne playing a rebellious young black man.
It is still hard to believe the inhumanity of man toward man. It is important for schools to emphasize the accomplishments of the people in the civil rights movement so we will never allow members of this society to be treated as second class citizens again.
The good news was on page 6B of The Joplin Globe today. "The (Joplin R-8) board also approved a teacher salary increase of about 3.45 percent for all schedules. For most teachers, this will result in a total salary increase for the year of between $1,000 and $1,300," said Paul Barr, financial director."
The raise is nice. The information was included in an article about the board's approval of a $55.5 million budget. You would think that would be a page 1A story and not buried in the back of section B. That's not the way the Globe editors think.
They did have a page one story about the board headlined "New policy requires advance notice for R-8 information." The editors thought that the Globe's difficulty in getting papers from the school was more important than how $55 million worth of taxpayers' money was being spent.
I will be the first to say, based on 22 years of journalism experience, that the board did not make a wise move. Why antagonize the press when you don't have to. On the other hand, the Globe is trying to make it look as if the board is perpetrating a crime against the public when that is clearly not the case.
I am betting a compromise will be reached and that no one outside the board and the Globe will care. The board needs to remember that the Globe, despite its many shortcomings is the representative of the people when its reporters attend board meetings. The Globe also needs to remembers that it is the representative of the people.

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