BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Rarely, if ever, have I written about a fundraising effort in this column, primarily because I’ve rarely been involved in one.
True, I’ve reported on other efforts for nonprofits and other worthy causes, but I was never directly involved in them. But this one is the rare exception, and the cause is, in my opinion, worthy of your attention, trust and support.
By now you’re well aware that in my life away from newspapers, I am also a documentary filmmaker, with several short and feature-length documentaries under my belt.
Two of the feature-length features I’m most proud of is 2010’s “Obama in NC: The Path to History,” the true story of how Barack Obama won the 2008 North Carolina primary, which was key towards his winning the Democratic nomination, and ultimately the White House.
And in then in 2014, a film near and dear to the hearts of many in the port city, “Pardons of Innocence: the Wilmington Ten,” the true story of how ten civil rights activists were framed for crimes they did not commit in February 1971, unjustly convicted and sentenced to prison, only to have their sentences overturned by a federal court, and over forty years later, The Wilmington Journal leading the Black Press in securing pardons of innocence for the Ten from the governor of North Carolina.
I still screen that film in and around the state, and still marvel at how audiences, young and old, black and white, continue to learn from it.
Yes, I’m very proud of it.
So how do I follow those two extraordinary projects? With, what I and many others apparently think is yet a third one.
The name of the documentary I’m in pre-production for is “Al: My Brother,” and it is about veteran civil rights activist and attorney Al McSurely, best known as a close adviser to NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber.
Few people realize that long before he became a skilled civil rights litigator, Al McSurely was (and still is actually) a white proponent of Black Power. He worked with black militant leader Stokely Carmichael, and worked to organize poor whites to join with poor blacks to demand equality.
For that, authorities raided Al’s home, confiscated the personal belongings of he and his wife then, Margaret; threw them in jail, and later blew up their home with them and their young son in it.
Then they charged the couple with plotting to overthrow the state of Kentucky, and when Al and his wife refused to obey an order from a US Senate subcommittee, they were charged with contempt of Congress.
And keep in mind this was long before Al ever became a civil rights attorney, but when he did, he represented black female Police Officer Keith Edwards; the black UNC housekeepers: the black state workers who filed suit after a noose was hung in their workplace, and many others.
And then, 12 years ago, Al McSurely supported a young black preacher when that preacher decided he would lead the failing NC NAACP. That preacher’s name was Rev. William Barber, and the two of them have been the real deal for the past 12 years, making the NCNAACP clearly one of the best in the nation.
As you can see, Al McSurely is a special man who has stood for justice all of his life, and continues to do so. He is respected and beloved by all who know justice and truth (and that ain’t everybody, trust me). As far as I’m concerned, he deserves this film and tribute, and I’m proud to make it happen.
But that’s difficult to do because of the time and resources needed to get the job done right. On-camera interviews have to be done, endless research, lots of production work. You name it. And it ain’t cheap.
So CashWorks HD Productions has kicked off a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign to raise $25,000 toward financing production of “Al: My Brother,” hoping to complete the film and release it in October of 2018.
How can you help? Please go to our crowdsourcing page at Kickstarter.com and enter “Al: My Brother” (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1585401759/al-my-brother?ref=user_menuto be precise).
Check out our new video trailer for the film, and if it moves you (it will), please feel free to contribute at the level you’re most comfortable at. The goal is $25,000 by Monday, August 7th, and we HAVE to raise that goal in pledge, or the production doesn’t get a penny. That’s the way Kickstarter works, you either raise it, or forget it. We receive NO money until the full $25,000 is raised, and it has to be by Monday, August 7th, 2017.
Finally the most important thing that you can do is to share the link to the “Al: My Brother” Kickstarter page with your circle of friends and family who appreciate the same lessons that Al McSurely’s story can teach us.
I want to make the best film possible for you, and I thank the many people, including NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber and Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP, for all of their help and support with this project.
From now until August 7th, we’ll keep you updated on our progress towards our $25,000 goal, but in the meantime, Wilmington, you have always been good to me. I thank you for any and all help each and every one of you can lend towards this effort.