Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement

Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement


>>Good afternoon. My name is Tom Nastick.
I’m senior public program producer at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater for Stars for Freedom:
Hollywood, Black Celebrities and the Civil Rights Movement by Emilie Raymond, and a special
welcome to those of you watching on our YouTube channel.
I’d like to tell you about a few upcoming programs here. On Thursday June 25th, Leonard
Steinhorn will moderate DC Statehood along with Anthony Williams, former Mayor of the
district of Colombia. This program is presented in partnership with the US former members
of congress. Friday Anthony Pitch discusses his new book Our Crime Was Being Jewish, hundreds
of Holocaust survivors tell their story. To find out more about these, please consult
or monthly calendar of events and it’s available on our website. Our speaker today Emilie Raymond
is a associate professor in Richmond Virginia. Professor Raymond specializes in 20th century
American politics and culture, as well as the influence of the Civil Rights Movement,
women as activism and conservativism in American life. She’s the author of from my cold, dead
hands. She is also the director of the annual BCU southern film festival. Would you please
welcome Emilie Raymond to the National Archives. [Applause]>>Emilie Raymond: Hello. Thank you so much
for coming out. It’s wonderful to be at the National Archives. When I first started this
project, the National Archives is where I started my research at college park especially
with the media and sound division. And the cover of the book actually comes from
the national archives collection. So I’m grateful to be able to return now that the book is
out. And one item from the National Archives is the Hollywood round table. We are going
to show a short clip of this round table. Just to set it up for you, this program appeared
on CBS television the night of the March on Washington so right after it happened. It
was moderated by the journalist David Schoenbern and future panelists who had joined in the
March, Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier. And they had this
unrehearsed discussion in which the group talked about their previous involvement with
the Civil Rights Movement, the significance of the March on Washington and the future
of civil rights in America. And this particular clip that we are watching features Harry Belafonte
and Sidney Poitier specifically in which they discuss their need to be involved, what was
really driving them to be involved. (The following was a video clip:>>13 years he comes home a man and they started>>In a television studio in Washington on
August 28, 1963 a small group from Hollywood, California, joined to give their own personally
held views of the civil rights gathering which took place on that day. Here at citizens committed
to the cause of civil rights are James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston,
Joseph Menkowitz and Sidney Poitier.>>I felt this sense of urgency myself, Mr.
Poitier and I noticed today all day long I saw or heard the word now, now, now, repeated
with insistency. Was it for you a case of urgency or has this been something you’ve
been fighting for a long time?>>Well the nature of my life over the last
36 years has been such that the urgency that was evidence today has been bubbling in me,
personally, for most of these years at least most of the years I came into adulthood. I
became interested in civil rights struggle out of a necessity to survive and I think
my interest started many years ago, never intentionally as it exists today.
>>How about a personal participation such as today’s extraordinary participation, is
this a rare experience for you?>>No. It is not. Having lived in New York
and other parts of America over the last 20 years, since I came from the Caribbean, I
found it necessary for selfprotection and to perpetuate my survival that I involve myself
in any activity that would ease my burden momentarily.
>>Mr. Belafonte, I’ve seen things happen in a given country in a given moment where
a sudden awareness of the problem takes place. I know this is not sudden for you, you have
been very active have you not?>>Yes I have.
>>Can you tell us about your own role in civil rights?
>>Civil rights is something I inherited. I got it from my mother and father and they
got it from their mothers and their fathers. And to be in Washington today was for me an
accumulation of a number of generations of black Americans who have been trying to appeal
to the conscious of white supremacy and a forth that has denied and disenfranchised
the Negroes for so long. It was for me today a beginning, really, a kind of a climax to
generations of hope. Having been at the beginning of so many important civil rights issues in
this country and demonstrations, it was indeed a powerful moment to see 200,000 people mostly
black people but also white people and to know that a nation such as America and the
reason that I struggle with it so hard and grapple with it so hard is because I believe
in the potential of this country. And this country has not realized its potential, it
has not even begun to scratch the surface in the humanities. And because I do feel strongly
about that potential and because of the kind of inheritance I’ve had, it was necessary
for me to be there today. (End of video clip)>>Emilie Raymond: So this discussion went on for about 30 minutes all together. And
I wanted to show this because I think that it helps feature some of the most important
Hollywood celebrities involved in the civil rights movement. And it also helps illustrate
some of the qualities that they brought to the Civil Rights Movement and the sense that
they were able to attract media attention. They also had a familiarity with mainstream
Americans and mainstream Americans were necessary to the success of the movement. And they also have had ability to articulate the civil rights message in a really constructive way
and that clip really helps us see that with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte talking
about the need for selfprotection in so many ways. This clip also provides a nice segue
for my overall argument in the book which that is a small group of Hollywood stars and
especially black celebrities significantly assisted the civil rights movement by acting
as spokespersons, as fundraisers, strategists and cheerleaders for movement organizations
and activists. They did this by using their public images, and their personal wealth.
So in terms of who these people were, those involved I’ve kind of divided it up into two.
The leading six who are the six activists most consistently involved from the earlier
point and made the biggest impact and then the Stars for Freedom overall. So the leading
six are Harry Belafonte, also Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. The entertainer Sammy Davis,
Jr., Poitier and the comedian Dick Gregory. Those are the ones who were most consistently involved in the movement. Other important figures included Lena horn, Burt Lancaster,
Frank Sinatra, Diahann Carroll and several others. This is a picture from the March on
Washington with Heston and Belafonte leading the way and then James garner and Diahann
Carroll and Paul Newman. Now there’s two really fascinating complications
to this story in terms of the historical context. Two things sort of complicating the ability
for a Stars for Freedom to even exist. And one of those is the House Un-American Activities
Committee and its investigations on Hollywood in the 1940’s. They were looking for communists
and throughout these investigations it led to the black list which is a collective studio
black list where the studio as agreed not to hire anyone with communist ties. The
Civil Rights Movement was a controversial
movement in parts of the goal of the movement, racial integration and equality but also because
it was the beginning of the cold war and the communist party was a champion of racial equality.
So both of those things were making it controversial. And a number of famous African American performers
were black listed very early on. One of the most important was Paul Roebson who was a
consummate artist and also a close friend and mentor to Poitier, Belafonte, Davis and
Dee. So him being black listed was really devastating for them to see their friend and
mentor driven out of show business and not being able to make a livelihood as an artist.
Other black listed performers included Canada Lee who was a successful character actor in
the 1940’s and Hazel Scott. She was the first black woman to have her first television show
way before Oprah but she was black listed. So while they were openly critical of the
black list they also tried to follow Roebson’s advice, to appear not too radical and distance
himself from the communist party’s activities as a way to still be effective civil rights
activists. The other complication to this story was that
prior to World War II, African American actors had typically portrayed stereotypical and
demeaning characters in Hollywood films. The studios were whiteowned studios and perpetuated
commonly held assumptions about African Americans and their characters in the films. And beyond
that they did not employ any black directors, producers, screen writers or any technical
employees. The only job for African Americans in the film industry were in acting and those
roles available were usually for the purpose of comic relief, through exaggerated dialect
or mannerists, out right silliness. Two of the most successful black actors in Hollywood
prior to the 1950’s were Hattie Mc Daniel and Lincoln Perry. Perry was better known
by his stage name. Hattie Mc Daniel almost always played a Mamie in Hollywood films.
She won an academy award for this portrayal. And she was very nononsense and tough and
smart but at the same time her entire identity was about serving whites. Lincoln Perry was
a very gifted comic but a lot of his comedic roles he appeared very foolish and use backward
dialect in some of those roles. So neither Hattie Mc Daniel or Lincoln Perry were really
considered to be a proper spokesperson by groups like NAACP
with aligns celebrities to promote the movement
itself. They felt like they weren’t proper spoke persons because they weren’t emitting
the kind of image they wanted in their films. When the NAACP in the late 40’s began pressuring
Hollywood studios to improve roles for African American actors it actually led to some fracturing.
This is all part of one newspaper head line. This illustrates that. Walter white had come
to Hollywood, was pressuring the studios to stop stereotypes, but a number of black stars
felt like he was interfering, he was not allowing them to choose their own roles. So there was
tension between working actors and the NAACP so there wasn’t a celebrity alignment prior
to the 1950’s. So we have these complications. Given that we have these constraints and given
these constraints how can Hollywood celebrities and especially African American actors take
part in an incredible controversial social movement during the cold war era when Hollywood
itself was discriminatory? All of these things happening that are sort of constraining. But
there’s two Hollywood changes that altered the context for black performers after World
War II. One was the breakdown of the studio system. In Hollywood’s heyday in the 1920’s
and 1930’s, eight major studios controlled the entire film industry. They controlled
production, distribution and exhibition. But two court cases sort of altered that. One
the California Supreme Court ruled against longterm player contracts, meaning actors
would not have to be signed into a lock down contract for more than seven years. Prior
to that the studios, they could own an actor basically for seven years and make them play
any role the studio wanted or send them out to other studios to play whatever roles that
studio wanted but the California Supreme Court ruled against that so after that actors were
allowed to be independent agents, free agents in baseball terminology. Another court case
was known as the paramount decision. In this the U.S. Supreme Court argued that the studios
did have an oligopoly. And the court outlawed practices in studio control distribution.
So the paramount decision basically made way for the rise of independent filmmakers who
proved themselves much more willing to make films that the major studios had considered
too controversial. Such films included message movies with liberal racial scenes often promoting
integration and often films that allowed African American actors to play roles of professional
characters. One great example is the film no way out and this is Sidney Poitier’s this
is kind of the film that defined his career. He plays a professional, he plays a doctor
but he’s confronted with these series of ethical questions when sees forced to attend to white
racist patients. And it shows him confronting racism and really defined his career and these
kinds of movies open up doors for other African American actors as well. But the caveat is
they were independent pictures, they were small pictures with shoe string budgets and
had limited theatrical runs. Another big change this terms of the industry was the advent
of television. Television really changed Hollywood dramatically in the late 1940 as and it became
increasingly popular throughout the 1950’s. This also created opportunities for black
actors and black entertainers. The sitcoms continued to perpetuate racial stereotypes
but the television variety shows were extremely popular in the 1950’s. Eddie Cantor or Steve
Allen, they invited black performers on their shows. What is different about these than
the sitcoms is that the black performers were able to come on and be themselves to interact
comfortably and interracial settings. And this is largely how mainstream Americans would
come to be familiar with people like Sammy Davis, Jr., and a little bit later the comedian
Dick Gregory. So these kinds of opportunities were new. Davis in particular was able to
take advantage of them. So these developments, the message movies
and television allows black actors to develop public personas more in line with the Civil
Rights Movement, especially as it grew more urgent in the mid 1950s. With the Brown versus
board of education decision and with the Montgomery bus boycott. However only Poitier was able
to make a living as a film and television actor. The rest of the leading six all supplemented
their incomes through different artistic means including recording contracts, nightclub contracts
and broad way productions. And this is because of the ongoing limitations. They simply would
not afford to support themselves because there weren’t enough acting roles to go around.
There were probably actually less roles. So despite the risks of provoking controversial
it was in the leading six’s self interest in a way to promote the Civil Rights Movement
in hopes of applying its game to Hollywood, applying games to the industry.
So that brings us back to the Leading Six and some of the trail blazing activity. Starting
as early as 1956 they attended and even helped organize rallies for causes with increasingly
large crowds. Such events included an event at Madison square garden, a youth march for
integrated schools in 1958 in Washington, D.C., and Belafonte and Jackie Robinson were
the coorganizers of that particular march. The other picture is of a garment civil rights
rally in New York. By participating in these rallies the stars were drawing larger and
larger crowds and also attracting newspaper headlines and often positive newspaper headlines.
The rallies were important for news and about southern activities and boosted the northern
network of support for southern activists. Helping improve their moral, and we will get
to that again in a little bit. Another trail blazing activity the Leading six did was to
raise money and they largely did this through benefit shows. They performed for free and
often produced numerous benefit shows and concerts for movements, organizations. Sammy
Davis, Jr., began doing activities in 1958 with benefits for the NAACP and he went on
to become one of the movement’s most successful fundraisers. He raised about $750,000 throughout
the 1950’s and 1960’s. The picture up on top is him at a Detroit freedom fund rally and
that benefit alone raised $60,000. And he was able to make more money after he became
identified with the rat pack, Davis is pictured with dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. When they
would appear at benefits or Davis appeared alone he was able to make even more money
for organizations. And Belafonte performed in countless benefits and produced countless
benefits. This is a southern Christian leadership conference pamphlet about a benefit concert
he was putting on. So that was a really important thing they were doing, the benefit shows,
the fund raising. The concerts had a lot of the same qualities and characteristics in
terms of a mass rally and drawing crowds but they raised money and added an air of glamour
to the movement that had not been there until that point.
The Leading six also were Trailblazers by connecting movement leaders and activists
to politically and cultural powerful individuals. Both Sammy Davis, Jr. And Harry Belafonte
campaigned for John F Kennedy and Belafonte was especially one to encourage Kennedy to
become more familiar with movement leaders and movement goals. He encouraged Kennedy
to meet with Martin Luther King, Jr. And he worked to facilitate voter registration projects.
He especially worked with the student nonviolent coordinating committee to establish voter
registration groups. In the mean time the black stars reached out to white celebrity
friends to encourage their participation in the movement. One important example is Sammy
Davis, Jr., by convincing Frank Sinatra to perform for free and several other of their
friends. So the movement organization was then able to develop contact lists, artist
contact lists who can be easy gotos for fundraisers and other events.
In terms of direct action, the most of the Stars for Freedom and most of the Leading
six did not engage in direct action in terms of southern protests. Most of them were not
comfortable with civil disobedience for the same reason most people around comfortable
with civil disobedience, they’re fearful of going to jail and what can happen to them
there. But there were a few exceptions. Charlton Heston joined in a demonstration in Oklahoma
City in 1961 so that was definitely different. I was inspired by his friend, Charley west
there on the right, and they marched to integrate downtown Oklahoma City, especially the stores
there. But he was not arrested on that occasion and
I don’t think he was ever arrested. The primary exception, somebody who was willing to engage
in civil disobedience and be arrested was the comedian Dick Gregory, he went to jail
at least eight times all over the country in Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama and Arkansas.
This was important to whatever project he was attempting to help by getting publicity
for that project and also helping the students or the activists know that they were not isolated,
that they weren’t alone. That there was somebody, a name, who cared about them and might be
able to get others to care about them as well. So this is the main activities of the Leading
six prior to 1963 in terms of helping develop the movement. And the movement finally caught
on in the summer of 1963. And this is especially epitomized by the march on Washington. 75
Hollywood stars formed an arts group in August 1963. It really did help build positive publicity
for the march. There was a lot of publicity for the march but a lot of it wasn’t very
positive. Fearful or down right hostile. So them being involved helped build more positive
publicity. Heston and Brando were the coorganizers of the arts group coming out of Hollywood.
And that’s Judy Garland. Of course there’s a lot of pictures from the march on Washington.
A lot are at the National Archives so I have quite a few to show you. Ossie Davis, he basically
organized the entertainment for the march on Washington. He put together a premarch
rally with a lot of folk singers and speech makers. He had singers along the way of the
march and he helped put together the program at the Lincoln memorial itself. So Ossie Davis
was really important to buildings that festivallike atmosphere that the march on Washington was
known for. He was on the east coast but they sort of worked together to bring out that
festivallike feel. And once they were at the Lincoln memorial,
the artists provided a number of dramatic moments that gave good media copy. There is
Sammy Davis, Jr., waving to the crowd. Burt Lancaster was there. This so listed a huge
cheer when they opened this scroll. This is a picture of Josephine baker and Lena horn.
Josephine baker had been barred from the United States for her controversial statements. The
state department knew she was not a communist but they felt they should bar her so she had
not been in the United States for most of the 50’s. So that seemed to provide a boost
to the crowd. Marlon Brando was there with a cattle prod that you brought out of Alabama
that he was swinging around. Dramatic moments. And Martin Luther king provided the most dramatic
with the I have a dream speech. And there is Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
So the march in a lot of ways was a turning point for celebrities and the Civil Rights
Movement because it paved the way for more celebrity involvement in the movements. You
have greater number of celebrities waiting to come out. But not only that more celebrities
willing to do things that were much more controversial that one would have thought that they would
do even five years prior, largely because of the cold war environment. So just engaging
in many more controversial sort of activities. You see it with sort of immediate change after the march on Washington. One is open organizational support. There were plenty of people in Hollywood
who had been quiet supporters of the movement but they didn’t want their name affiliated
necessarily. They didn’t want it to be publicized that they had given money or they just feared
the black list and just stayed to themselves. But that really seemed to change after the
march on Washington. And a great example is this freedom spectacular that the NAACP put
together. It was a closed circuit televised, closed circuit televised fund raising spectacular
and they broadcast it all over the United States to be shown in auditoriums or theaters
as a way for local chapters to raise money. And the number of people participated in this
freedom spectacular who had kind of stayed away before. Ed Sullivan is a good example.
He was a wellknown liberal. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were the hottest Hollywood
couple at the time so once they were involved there was a lot of excitement about that.
Edward G. Robinson was involved. And he had been on the black list and had been too scared
to be involved but he came back for this. That’s why it seems like the movement or the
march on Washington really provided a turning point. And this goes throughout the 1960’s.
A fair number of stars would come out in support of the Black Panther party in the late 1960’s.
This is a picture of Ruby Dee holding a press conference, panthers 22. There were 22 Black
Panther members who were arrested on what she said erroneous charges, they were singled
out by the police and she was defending them. Seeing this open organizational support was
a really dramatic change from the 1950’s. And there’s also, stars are more willing to
take on some of the more controversial issues of the movement. This is a picture of Marlon
Brando, he was marching in California in 1963 in a city outside of Los Angeles and he was
marching for integrated housing to try to get the developer of the neighborhood to allow
for integrated housing. And this action it was through COR, congress of racial equality,
and it hadn’t gotten any attention at all until Marlon Brando got involved with it.
And this foreshadowed more and more celebrity involvement in housing issues the following
year. In 1964 California had a very famous proposition 14 fight over open housing. And
150, so twice as many who were involved in the march in Washington, 150 stars got involved
in proposition 14 to openly support open housing. We also see after the march on Washington
more and more celebrities who were willing to go south despite the frightening hostility
of southern whites. And some stars came quietly, they came to check out voter registration
projects in Mississippi, in Alabama, or they came to deliver money. Belafonte and Sidney
Poitier went down. So some were just quietly there. But in other cases the stars helped
build publicity just like they had in some of these northern rallies and marches. This
is especially showcased in the Montgomery walk. They weren’t the main attraction but
they did help bring publicity and help bring the march about. Dick Gregory helped launch
the march from where it started in Selma. Two celebrities marched the entire way, the
exhusband of Betty Davis and Roberts from bonanza. They helped with a lot of the logistics
along the way. There was a rally at St. Jude’s the night before the final event. And there
were a number of stars there, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Shelly winters,
people who genuinely feared coming south but did because they wanted to support this particular
march. Belafonte led an impromptu concert with Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. This
entertained the crowd and provided images of interracial immunity for the news castors.
So this willingness was an interesting development. And this is a picture of Burt Lancaster at
a rally at the end of the Meredith march. This is a march to encourage Mississippians
to votes despite the voting rights there was great fear in registering to vote. It was
supposed to be a oneman march but he was shot on the first day. And celebrities came down
and Burt Lancaster was one of those. After the march on Washington stars were more willing
to go global. They no longer or seemed to be less fearful of an anticommunist backlash
for airing America’s racial problems to the rest of the world. And Belafonte put on benefit
shows for king’s southern Christian leadership conference in Europe. This was the head line
when they went to Europe. And they began criticizing American involvement in Vietnam. So it was
a change in terms of the fear about their public images and what they were willing to
do. So as I was going about all of this research,
one of the things that I had to keep considering was how to measure the impact of these stars.
In some cases it’s more quantifiable than others. Money was pretty quantifiable because
you can find out how much was raised as a particular event, what percentage of an organization’s
budget that was or where exactly the money went. So that was not as much of a challenge.
Publicity was a little bit harder to quantify because you’re trying to count the number
of headlines, figure out if it was negative or positive publicity. What qualities celebrities
brought to that. Dick Gregory was able to generate publicity which seemed so important.
This was a head line from the New York Times. And he had gone to visit voter registration
project in Pine Bluff and the activists there felt like they were pretty isolated, no one
was really paying attention to them. Even the Civil Rights Movement weren’t paying attention
to them. He visited, got arrested and went to jail and all of a sudden the New York Times
is reporting. So the activist said after he came it made it much easier to recruit willing
students and willing activists so it made a huge difference.
>>It was a turning point for a lot of them in a lot of ways. So that brings us to emotional,
how to measure the emotional impact. It seemed like an important thing especially from the
activists I interviewed, they felt like they were so isolated especially in the deep south
and were in so much danger. Especially having one celebrity interested in them that provided
a buffer so it gave a crucial psychological comfort. One said he felt like the stars since
they all played roles for a living that they really appreciated the real lives and the
work they did and they realized they were stars to them. The activists were stars to
the stars and that was really gratifying and important for them. The fact that this is
a picture of Belafonte and Portier bailing out jailed protestors. Including John Lewis. The fact that they would personally come and bail them out of jail was also very gratifying. I found in the letters a lot of emotional
letters written from civil rights organizations to those celebrities who had supported them.
One really touching example was between James Forman who wrote to Dick Gregory. Dick Gregory
had personally delivered 14,000 pounds of food to Greenwood, Mississippi. This was in
reaction to a number of southern black locals who had sort of seemed interested in what
the activists were doing, he expressed an interest in registering to vote, found they
would be fired or pushed off their land as sharecroppers and were suffering economically.
And then at the same time in Greenwood, Mississippi, and some of the surrounding counties they
cut the food relief so there was literally a famine about to begin in Greenwood, Mississippi.
And Gregory helped raise the money. He helped bring the food down because he basically had
to handdeliver it otherwise it would be interfered with by local authorities. And James Forman
wrote him a letter saying the thousands of hungry Negroes know perhaps for the first
time in their lives that they do not have to be afraid. The number of field workers
has increased from 30 to 42 thanks to you. Your efforts have really increased our determination
to stay in Mississippi and get the job done. Those kinds of statements help provide that
sort of psychological measure that I think is really important to these celebrities being
involved. And you can also measure impact by their impact
on Hollywood itself sort of coming back to Hollywood. Title seven of the 1964 civil rights
act allowed employment and winning more jobs behind the scene. The number of the Stars
for Freedom also became filmmakers, they became screen writers, producers, directors. And
that held so much more of a position of authority where they can insist on improved roles and
more employment opportunities for African Americans in the film industry.
This is a film poster from the movie buck and the preacher. It was a western that Belafonte
and Sidney Poitier coproduced. Sidney Poitier, this was the first film that Sidney Poitier
directed so they were able to control the message of the film which was really about
black aspirations after the Civil War and also able to control the casting and hiring
and all those sorts of things. And this paved the way for Sidney Poitier to be a very successful
director in the 1970’s. And in 1980 he directed the film stir crazy which was the highest
grossing film of a black director ever until that point.
And now African Americans work in every phase of the film and television industries. And
usually this year was a big exception, usually there are multiple black contenders for academy
awards so their impact on Hollywood itself I think was also very influential. But more
the Stars for Freedom helped paved the way for more celebrity involvement in politics,
especially social movements once deemed too controversial. And this can be seen in the anit-Vietnam movement, the American Indian movement raise funds, publicity and And they really show how celebrities can effectively psychological support for causes in the media age. So thank you very much. I’d be happy to answer
any questions. [Applause]>>Emilie Raymond: If you would like to ask
a question, I’ve been told to send you to either of these microphones.
>>Audience Member: Hello. Hollywood is in California. California has a lot of racial
problems, not just black and white but obviously Hispanic issues in the 50’s, Japanese, Chinese,
whatever. Did the Hollywood involvement in the civil rights struggle extend to other
races or was it strictly white African Americans? Did they promote Hispanic, Japanese? Chinese?
>>Emilie Raymond: Mostly in this period it extended to native Americans especially the
work of Dick Gregory and Marlon Brando. They didn’t dramatically take on these other ethnic
civil rights groups. Maybe smally like their own personal efforts in terms of casting approval
but it did seem to be focused mostly on African Americans and native Americans during this
period. Yes?>>Audience Member: I was curious to know
what message did you intend to send to the younger audience through your book?
>>Emilie Raymond: Okay. The message to a younger audience?
>>Audience Member: What was your message or theme that you wanted to communicate or
just overall to your audience in the book that you wrote?
>>Emilie Raymond: Okay. I think one thing is that celebrities are often accused of being
really selfinvolved or hypocritical or contributing negatively to the political environment. But
with this group the Stars for Freedom and particularly the Leading six we can see that’s
completely opposite, that they provide something really constructive and meaningful and important.
And the media has changed to some degree in terms of social media of course. But they
found ways to use the media. I think current stars should be reached out to and they should
be encouraged to support social movements as well.
>>Audience Member: Thank you.>>Emilie Raymond: Thanks. Yes?
>>Audience Member: Hi.>>Emilie Raymond: Hi.
>>Audience Member: Hi. I’m curious about the untold stories of the civil rights movement
is the funding for the movement. In your research how difficult was it the find those financial
records and the stories. Can you talk about that?
>>Emilie Raymond: Yeah, any time you look at something and it needed funding or budgets,
yes, that would help me figure that out. Some of the records aren’t that clear and some
are contradictory but there were financial records and a lot of the SNCC papers are on
microphone in terms of organizational records and a number of the activists have been donating
their papers. So if they were involved in fundraising I can get information from them.
James Forman was really organized and saved everything so I have a lot of information
from him. And he was the one who was connecting with celebrities the most out of SNCC. So
his papers are good. And they just appeared at the library of congress like a year and
a half ago. So it was so exciting for me that they were open and available. Most of them
kept records. It would be difficult to find a folder on celebrities fund raising. But
the NAACP all their papers are at the library of congress. The only difficult organization
I had was the SCLT, those papers were scattered around. There was the king center in Stanford
and Boston, the one in Atlanta was having organizational problems. So I had the hardest
time with them but at the same time Taylor branch wrote detailed books about king so
I can get information from that, too.>>Audience Member: A brief comment on a previous
question was that the members of Hollywood tried to deal with problems that the Japanese
Americans had that was not really civil rights but a movie with Spencer Tracey was dealing
with some of these issues with an amazing cast. But the question I had was
>>Emilie Raymond: Thank you.>>Audience Member: The question I had was
the FBI, did they investigate any of these six actors, was there any knowledge of that?
I know they were wiretapping king but I wonder if any of the Hollywood actors were wiretapped?
>>There is an FBI file on Sammy Davis, Jr. And Harry Belafonte was I didn’t have a specific
file on him but he showed up a lot because of King being wire tapped. But the rest I
did not have FBI files for. I don’t know if that means they don’t exist… Those Belafonte well, Malcolm X, there’s an FBI file on Malcolm
X, and Dick Gregory and Ossie Davis worked closely with him so I found out information
from them through his file.>>Audience Member: (Off mic.)
>>Emilie Raymond: Did she? Hmm. Yeah, I’m surprised. Yes?
>>Audience Member: You mentioned that SNCC reaching out to Hollywood in terms of using
them for media publicity. And you also talked about the activity committee. My question
is maybe which came first, the chicken or the egg. Do you think that perhaps the Hollywood
came to the civil rights movement or did the civil rights movement go to Hollywood for
that? Which do you think came first?>>Emilie Raymond: Well, I think it’s more
Hollywood came to the civil rights movement but mostly because Davis Ossie Davis, Ruby
Dee, Belafonte were involved in this movement before they went to Hollywood. So they were
involved in the late ’40s and early ’50s. But Sidney Poitier’s big break was 1950. Even
though it was a big break, looking back we can call it a big break, he still really struggled
throughout the first half of the 1950’s in terms of film roles. And Belafonte’s first
big film wasn’t until 1956. So yeah, I think it’s more Hollywood came to them. But they
weren’t established like Alist Hollywood stars at this time, either. That’s not until more
like the early 1960’s. Does that make sense? Okay. Any other questions? I’m sorry.
>>Audience Member: Did you get into the idea that another pressure on Hollywood was the
fact that foreign films were much more of a new thing in America and in particular the
depiction of relationships between the races?>>Emilie Raymond: I don’t know. I didn’t
really come across that necessarily. But at the same time I know that the film studios
in the early 50’s started doing market research and they realized there was I was surprised
they didn’t do much market research until then but they did realize there was an audience
for more mature films that the foreign films sort of reflected. So part of that independent
picture trend was probably with that. That’s the best I can do here.
Yes?>>Audience Member: So on the cover of your
book you have we saw in the clip Charlton Heston you also did a book on him. So what
happened? [Laughter] Seems like he had a reverse epiphany?
>>Emilie Raymond: I get that question about Charlton Heston and Bill Cosby, both. What
happened to Bill Cosby? But Heston, yeah, the way he thought of it was that he had always
been a champion of civil liberties so their championing of the civil rights movement was
one for civil liberties the same way with guns. He also said it was the Democratic Party
that changed, not him that had changed. And he was a conservative cold war democrat. Once
he became involved with NRA it seems like his public persona changed somewhat and especially
when you’re with a lobbying group, a single issue lobbying group, you’re more militant,
less prone to compromise, and things that had been beneficial to him I mean, he supported
the civil rights movement and his films in the 1970’s. He exercised a lot of casting
authority so he made sure there were inter racial friendships and inter racial romances
in his films but he was also conservative when it came to the movement itself and he
was uncomfortable with civil disobedience, he was not going to get involved with any
kind of civil disobedience. So he didn’t go from a raging radical on the left to a raging
radical on the right.>>Moderator: We are out of time.
>>Emilie Raymond: Okay. Thank you. [Applause]

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