The WOODSTOCK 50thanniversary festival is no more. Long live the original! Thankfully, the WOODSTOCK movie, winner of the Academy Award in 1971 for Best Documentary, endures, and remains provocative 50 years after we began filming, against all odds, on August 10, 1969. Though some 500,000 people attended the festival between August 15-17, only several thousand remained on the muddy field to hear the Call to Action unleashed by Jimi Hendrix at 9AM on Monday morning, August 18, 1969.
On this Thursday, August 15, 2019, in 600 theaters across the country, for one night only, the WOODSTOCK DIRECTOR’s CUTwill be screened for tens of thousands of people, young and old. What we as filmmakers did then, on those muddy fields filled with R.E.S.P.E.C.T., integrity, and communitarianism, lives on eternally as a once-in-a-lifetime-experience, historic in its reverberation.
Very near the end of the movie, Jimi Hendrix, dressed in white fringe, stands alone with a pick-up band, searching for meaning from the almost empty fields, the barren stage, the cast-off remains of the most spontaneous gathering of humankind ever recorded. But when he does find his groove, nothing can prevent his “Call to Action” mingled with “Taps” from being embedded in the hard drive of our nation’s consciousness, capturing screams from the original sin of slavery in 1619 to the assassination of HOPE, symbolized by President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, and beyond, to this day. This is no idle 4-minute rift piercing our soul. The end of an era, it haunts us today.
Alas, Jimi Hendrix would not live long enough to know that his wailing plea would reach millions of people around the world, in the movie and on recordings. Still, what gauntlet is he throwing out to our generation? Whyand Howdoes Hendrix matter? What can we do? Perhaps at no other time in our society is his searing call to action more urgent than it is now as we navigate our futures in this society.
First, we can all set our alarms for 9AM this Sunday August 18 to remember, for the 3 minutes 46 seconds it takes Jimi to pierce us with his brilliant majesty, how he speaks to and begs each of us. He spoke 50 years earlier. He echoes today. He matters. New dawns await us, if and whenweact.
Second,we can engage locally with our community, as A. J. Ali—who heard Jimi Hendrix’s call years ago—would have us do. On September 17, in all 50 states, beginning at 6PM Eastern and 3PM Pacific, for a 3-hour event, A.J. Ali has inaugurated The National Day of Reconciliation, patterned after a similar event in South Africa, to foster reconciliation and national unity for our country, particularly to improve relations between police and people of color. L.O.V.E. is the answer, just as R.E.S.P.E.C.T.,sung by Aretha Franklin, is for those of us who made the WOODSTOCKmovie. A.J. Ali has organized law enforcement agencies, schools, colleges, ministries, community centers, theaters, libraries and other locations. By remembering Hendrix’s Call, we can bring this country of ours closer together. Our time is now. Go to, share and join: http://loveistheanswermovement.com/national-day-of-reconciliation/
Dale Bell, a producer of WOODSTOCK; author of two new books about the making of the movie. firstname.lastname@example.org. Media Policy Center, 2932 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403.
Martin Luther King was a champion of economic justice and repeatedly spoke about the disparities in American society.
In 1967, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) started planning a demonstration that would bring thousands of working poor to the National Mall in Washington D.C. They called it the “Poor People’s Campaign,” and with it they hoped to highlight the economic disparities in American society. De-segregation was only the first step on the road to justice, but King and the SCLC knew that with racial justice must come economic justice. He told a crowd in 1967, “I think it is absolutely necessary now to deal massively and militantly with the economic problem … This is why in SCLC we came up with the idea of going to Washington, the seat of government, to dramatize the gulf between promise and fulfillment, to call attention to the gap between the dream and the realities, to make the invisible visible.”
On March 18, 1968, just days before his murder Dr. King spoke to a crowd of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. “What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?” he asked. “What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school when he doesn’t earn enough money to buy his children school clothes? So, we assemble here tonight… to say, ‘We are tired. We are tired of being at the bottom. We are tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. We are tired of our children having to attend overcrowded, inferior, qualityless schools. We are tired of having to live in dilapidated, substandard housing conditions where we don’t have wall to wall carpet, but so often end up with wall to wall rats and roaches. We are tired…smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”
King wouldn’t live to see the Poor People’s Campaign come to fruition. Despite King’s murder, the SCLC, now headed by Ralph Abernathy, went ahead with the campaign. On Mother’s Day, 1968, thousands of women led by Coretta Scott King came to Washington D.C., demanding economic justice. Protesters erected tents and shacks on the National Mall calling the encampment Resurrection City. Through rain and mud, they made daily trips to the headquarters of national agencies to make their demands. On June 6th, 1968, Robert Kennedy, then a senator from New York and supporter of the campaign, was assassinated in Los Angeles. His funeral procession passed through Resurrection City. Protesters continued to camp out on the Mall until June 24, when the Department of the Interior forced the camp to close because their permit to use the park had expired.
King’s calls for economic equality are best explained in his book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? “, the last book he would write before his murder. In it, and in a speech of the same name he gave to the annual SCLC conference in Atlanta, he spoke about his vision of economic justice.
“I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? ” that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society.
“There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.
“When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised.
“And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?” You begin to ask the question, “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?” These are words that must be said.
“Now, don’t think you have me in a bind today. I’m not talking about communism. What I’m talking about is far beyond communism. …Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social.
“And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.
“What I’m saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, “America, you must be born again!”
“And so, I conclude by saying today that we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction.
“Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.
“Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.
“Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.
“Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.
“Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.
“Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.
“Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied.”
Happy Martin Luther King Day.
Dale Bell, director of the new documentary “Backfired: When VW Lied to America”, visited the Volkswagen dealership in Santa Monica to hand out postcards about the film.
For more informations, please visit: www.mediapolicycenter.org/backfired-vw-lied-america/
Dale Bell, Co-CEO/President/Founder of The Media & Policy Center, is teaching a class in CRISIS MANAGEMENT at UCLA Saturday June 9th, at 1:15pm. There will be a screening of his new film: Backfired: When VW Lied to America. Preceding the showing of the film will be a brief talk by Dale Bell. After will be a talk and Q&A.
Address: 114B Gayley Center, corner of Gayley and Linbrook.
Just Announced! Do No Harm Documentary selected for the REEL Recovery Film Festival lineup next October in Los Angeles. Watch here for screening info and special guests. Facing Addiction with NCADD, FED Up Rally CCAPP Faces & Voices of Recovery Media Policy Center
Visit Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic website to view the current broadcast schedule!
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