Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks died yesterday. It’s is fitting to take a moment to take note of what one person who seemingly didn’t have a voice, didn’t have a platform, was able to do. She changed America with a single nonviolent act.

We have a voice and a platform. We have the means with our cameras, editing systems, and internet connections to be seen and heard. The truth, spoken softly and with dignity, is a powerful thing. Our daily professional lives don’t often afford us the chance to speak great truths, but when the opportunity does present itself we should seize it.

My big break in the business was being hired in 1989 to be the post production supervisor for the civil rights series Eyes on the Prize. The very small part I played in helping to tell the stories of people like Rosa Parks remains among the highlights of my career. Sadly, Eyes isn’t available on videotape or DVD. The rights to much of the archival footage and music of the era have lapsed.

As Edward R. Murrow said of television,

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.”

Those moments when we can make the television more than a flickering blue pacifier are what it’s all about.

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