Monday, July 16, 2012

"The Meaner The Man Be, The More You Smile"

An unassuming black waiter at a 'whites only' restaurant in Greenwood, Mississippi in the 1960s named Booker Wright gave a stunning on-air interview about his experiences to a film crew making a documentary about segregation in the South that aired on NBC in 1966.  The documentary was later lost to time.  But it was re-discovered recently and descendants of both the waiter and the film maker went back to Greenwood a few months ago looking for the epilogue.

The footage is really quite stunning.  And heartbreaking.  ("Some call me 'Booker.'  Some call me 'John.'  Some call me 'Jim.' Some call me 'ni**er.'  All that hate. But you have to smile. The meaner the man be, the more you smile. Although you're crying on the inside, although you're wondering 'what else can I do?'")

You can watch a 3 minute segment from the NBC Nightly news last night HERE, which is really an introduction to the one hour Dateline episode airing later in the evening (with little footage of Booker). But you can watch the entire Dateline episode online, starting with part 1 HERE. But the biggest chunk of Booker's original interview is shown in part 2 HERE at the 5 minute mark.

Very little about this story is as predictable as you probably suspect.  But I doubt you can watch that footage of Booker without tearing up.

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