FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2009
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV. CONTACT:
CARL RAY'S PRESS CONTACT:
CARL RAY PERFORMS AWARD-WINNING AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PLAY AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY JANUARY 15TH -- "A KILLING CHOCTAW"
Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) - On Thursday, January 15, 2009, George Washington University will kick-off a week-long celebration beginning with Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and proceeding through the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. To commence the historical occasion, the university has invited activist/actor/speaker Carl Ray to speak and perform his acclaimed autobiographical one-man play "A Killing in Choctaw" -- a true story about Ray witnessing his father's 1962 racially-motivated murder in Choctaw County, Alabama. Ray will relive the gripping story at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, January 15th at George Washington School of Media and Public Affairs, 805 - 21st Street NW, Washington, DC. Ray will host a Q&A session following his performance. Admission is free and open to the public.
In 1962, 18-year-old Carl Ray witnessed his father's gruesome murder at the hands of a white man who was angered because he believed Ray had disrespected him in conversation. During the murder trial that followed, Ray was blamed for causing his own father's death because he had failed to respect the white man. Mr. George Rice, Associate Director of Multi-Cultural Students Services, had heard Ray's story when he invited Ray to Bowling Green University in 2001. Believing the play symbolizes the changes that have occurred in America since the Civil Rights Movement, Rice invited Ray to share his story with students at George Washington University.
With the election of the first African American president, a variety of untold stories on African American history are being written and discussed. Major television networks and newspapers are broadcasting and writing about slavery, and for the first time, educating the American public that the White House – future home of the Obamas – was actually built with slave labor. In an effort to gain ratings, there have been programs and articles about slavery, the Jim Crow Era and lynching, which before now were rarely mentioned in mainstream media.
With the election of Obama, incidents like Ray's, which were endured by thousands of African Americans, can now be told in their true, raw and un-sanitized versions of American history." Ray witnessed his father's horrid murder by a white man in 1962, and has lived with the fact that the man did not serve any time in prison for the crime. In 1963, Ray was locked in a hotel room in Mississippi and terrorized by eight Klan members - another crime in which the perpetrators weren't punished. Yet, today he carries a message of "Why African Americans Must Forgive America" in his speaking and performances. Ray proclaims, "The greatest day of my life was the day I forgave the man that murdered my father. Now that we have a president who is committed to change in America, what better place to begin than with forgiveness!"
On the Wednesday evening prior to his performance Ray will have a sit-down conversation with students. He will paint a picture of what life was like for African Americans before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Ray said he loves the Q&A sessions because in some instants the students have asked questions that have led him to talk about things in his past that he had not discussed with anyone because of his personal pain surrounding the subject. In reality, each performance is a learning experience for the students and a therapy session for him.
ABOUT "A KILLING IN CHOCTAW"
In 1999, San Jose, Calif. educator, activist and former stand-up comic Carl Ray began telling the compelling story of witnessing his father's racially motivated murder in the form of an acclaimed one-man, single-act play "A Killing in Choctaw." Ray has relived the painful day more than 300 times performing live in theaters, museums, community centers, churches and colleges throughout the U.S.
In September 2004, Ray's story premiered as a documentary titled "A Killing in Choctaw: the Power of Forgiveness," which received rave reviews from The New York Times and went on to screen and take awards at noted film festivals: U.S. Virgin Island International Film Festival, San Francisco Black Film Festival, Black International Cinema Festival in Berlin, Germany, and Stanford University "Reel Black" Independent Black Film Festival.
The following year, Los Angeles PBS KLCS-TV/DT created a set replicating the porch on which Ray's father was murdered and the Alabama courtroom where the actual trial took place. They filled the courtroom with jurors and spectators, and then the studio taped Ray's live performance for airing on its program "Facing History and Ourselves" and for Los Angeles School District curriculum. KLCS Channel 58 aired the film documentary and the play "WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project" in October 2005. Subsequently, the program won several distinguished industry awards: Silver Davey Award of Excellence "Social Issues;" Silver Davey Award of Excellence "Education;" Aurora Award - "Platinum Best of Show" for "directing;" Videographer Award of Excellence for "Creativity in Cinematography;" Silver Telly, the highest award for "cultural programming;" and Bronze Telly Award for achievement in "set design."
To learn more about Carl Ray, his bi-annual historical black college tours, and his compelling life story, please visit A Killing In Choctaw. The Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) alumnus may be contacted at (408) 206-1768 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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