In preparation in (or while debating whether I am going to) see(ing) Django Unchained in the next week or so, I decided to watch this amazing documentary Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story, which interweaves three stories: The first is about Booker Wright, a former waiter and bar owner whom in 1966 had a small portion in a film documenting the Civil Rights struggle in Mississippi. The second portion is about Director Frank De Felitta, who had travelled to Greenwood, MS and made a fateful decision in choose to include Wright's sentiments about his experience working in an all-white, high-end restaurant in his film, which could have led to his demise. The third story was about the city itself and the methods used to disguise the racial segregation and the involvement of the Klu Klux Klan to the filmmakers, as they were desperate to show a different light to the mainstream audience (NBC produced the original film.
The center of the film is directed on Wright. He was a man who had lost a lot: While he raised his three daughters in the city and despite holding down a serving position, he was also a business owner and later, bought a school bus to ensure that poor black kids could get to school and more importantly, an education, something that he had never received. His mother was a sharecropper and when her boss moved, she was told that her infant son could not go with her but she could send for him when her boss had settled in. While Wright, whom never saw his mother again until he had children of his own, thought that she had abandoned him, the real truth was that she was essentially blackmailed - when she had returned to Greenwood to get him, the family that took him in told her that she had to pay to get him back. Without money and despite making several attempts, she never could afford to.