Art Without Walls:
I have been a TV viewer of the NAACP IMAGE AWARDS for many years; for the most part I have enjoyed the entertainment although I must admit, being occasionally mystified by some of the choices made when it appeared popularity and corporate support trumped talent.
Last year was indeed, a historic one with the election of the first African American President, Barrack Obama. When the cameras panned the 150,000 faces of a divided nation—present in Chicago’s Grant Park-- to celebrate, it stopped long enough for a close-up shot of the Rev. Jesse Jackson with tears rolling down his face. One could only imagine what was going through his mind. The cynics thought: Rev. Jackson was envious because he was not in Obama’s place. After all, did he not make two unsuccessful bids for the office?
The arrogance of the young voters were “high” on the moment, but “low” on the political history of the Civil Rights Movement could not get their “one time voter’s ego” out of the way long enough to appreciate the commitment to social justice made by persons such as the Rev. Jackson. Which brings me to the reason why I am writing this letter.
The buzzword throughout Obama’s Democratic election campaign was “change.” And they worked it. The song, “A Change Is Goanna Come”, written and recorded by the late Sam Cooke over forty years ago is the unofficial Civil Rights Movement Anthem of the mid-60’s. It became Obama’s campaign mantra.
Everyone was talking and singing but no one stopped long enough to acknowledge the geneses of the song, or acknowledged the legacy of one of the greatest artist in history. So, I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was put in a call to the NAACP Hollywood office to inquire about a list of African Americans artists who had been acknowledged and/or received special recognition based upon their contribution as artist/activist. The receptionist who answered the telephone at the NAACP Hollywood office was abrupt in her response to my inquiry. She stated, “I don’t know.” I suggested she should find out. Despite the fact that I left my telephone number (with the expectation of a return call) I never heard from her.
When after a decent amount of time had passed; it became crystal clear that the receptionist had no intentions of following up on my inquiry. With this revelation I wrote a letter to Mr. Bullock, Director of the NAACP Hollywood Branch. This letter was written on March 29, 2009. With respect to the organization, if they had not honored Sam Cooke in the past, would they consider honoring him in at their 2010 upcoming Image Awards. I never heard from Mr. Bullock . Nor was my parcel correspondence returned to me “addressee unknown.”
It is reasonable for me to assume my parcel correspondence was delivered. To this date I have not received the courtesy of a response; particularly after sending at least two additional letters subsequent to my letter of March 29,2009, numerous telephone calls, e-mails and faxes to Mr. Bulluck.
I am not a picky person or someone without experience. I am fully aware that Mr. Bulluck as well as the NAACP receives thousands of letters. , I do not expect them to personally respond to each and every letter, which would be unreasonable. However, in this day and age of technology there is absolutely no reason or excuse why I, or anyone else, should not receive at the very least a computer generated letter of acknowledgement. Succinctly, as the NAACP has ignored the contribution of the legendary Sam Cooke, so have my communications to Mr. Bulluck .
Before I go any further, let me say that my complaint is not about “sour grapes, as I do not drink anyone’s kool-aid. This letter is to draw attention to the disrespectful, and condescending manner in which those who hold the public trust often times take their constituents for granted.
When institutional white racism in the film industry continued to ignore Black artist the NAACP was in the vanguard of calling them out; the NAACP presented this industry with a long list of checkable grievances. When the industry failed to respond, the NAACP called for a boycott. I am following Suite.
Your image as an organization has been greatly diminished in my eyesight starting with the receptionist who “didn’t know” and made no attempt to find out; to whomever reads your mail and determined that our suggestion did not warrant a reply. Had this request come from a corporation or some other organization with name recognition this letter would not be forth coming. This is why I am boycotting the NAACP 2010 IMAGE AWARDS. I will not support an organization that claims to speak for the people but is too busy, too elitist to do something so simple as to acknowledge a letter. Shame on you.
Contact Person: Mae Jackson, Director
Art Without Walls
E-Mail: Attia@aol.comNote: Art Without Walls is a community based activist organization that utilizes the talent of artist in various community projects such as After-School Programs, Communal Meals for People With Aids, Books-behind Bars and support for incarcerated mothers, their children and extended family members. It is one of the first organization’s in the country to provide support for incarcerated women with Aids, and the first to hold a Congressional Hearing on Health Care for Artist.