Blogger Shares Profound Family History in “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story”

Photo c/o Tribeca Films

I am not selling nor campaigning for any bargain, deal or steal in this blog post, but merely am appreciating the life work of a blogger whose story I happened upon and am deeply moved by. I was drawn into a most breathtaking journey of a former San Diegan, whose story has just captivated me! I hope it will strike a chord within you, too.

In July of 2007, while I was discovering this whole blogging thing and was asking myself, “So now what?” another mom (also now a blogger) working on her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University, was about to embark on a far more compelling journey!  Yvette Johnson, daughter of Leroy Jones, a former American football defensive end for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League, was out of the loop about her African American family heritage stemming from Mississippi. Growing up in a privileged upbringing in San Diego she heard little of the lives her parents had left behind, but yearned to know more and dig up some family history, particularly because she wanted to pass on to her kids their family history.  What she found was that her own grandfather was a true unsung hero of the Civil Rights era, and (IMHO) the video footage of him and the legacy he left behind is something that everyone should witness with his/her own eyes and hearts and contemplate.

Johnson is now gaining national recognition for her part of the recent documentary, “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story”, in which she helps tell the story of her profoundly courageous grandfather!  Prompted by a university assignment, Yvette discovered that her grandfather, Booker Wright, risked his life in his decision to be candid for the camera for a 1966 NBC documentary entitled, “Mississippi: A Self-Portrait”, a film showing racism in the white community of Greenwood, Mississippi. Wright’s  interview brought on severe repercussions, causing him to be beaten, his business bombed, and most likely led to his murder seven years later.


A Cut Down of 1966 Frank De Felitta film, “Mississippi: A Self-Portrait”

Over fifty years later the story is revisited in “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story,” a collaboration between co-producer Yvette Johnson, and director Raymond De Felitta, whose father, Frank De Felitta, originally filmed the interview with Wright.  De Felitta later said he regretted showing the interview due to the violence it evoked. Raymond De Felitta expands on his father’s work, revisiting Greenwood, Mississippi and interviewing blacks and whites who were in the film, as well as others who could shed some light as to how far the racial climate has changed there.

“Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story”: Official Trailer (2012) HD

I’m overwhelmed by the courage Wright demonstrated by boldly telling his story, despite what could come of it, and I praise the filmmakers for their amazing contributions! Most compelling to me is the devotion of Johnson who, years later, continues to shed light on the issues of racism that should never be forgotten nor easily brushed off as just a thing of the past.  Johnson still has questions that she hopes will be answered and probing that she needs to do.

I hope you will check out  Johnson’s blog!  Do you know of a stand-out blogger that you would like to share?  Please leave a comment below!!


Watch the original 1966 NBC News documentary, “Mississippi: A Self Portrait” in its entirety.

Purchase: Searching for Booker Wright: A Collection of Blog Posts and Journal Entries

Dateline NBC’s Lester Holt reports.



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