LOS ANGELES, CA-Untold stories like the one brought to life about a group of regular folks who helped carve out the start of the Civil Rights Movement in TV One’s Behind the Movement, are narratives that are often overlooked and forgotten about.
Actor Isaiah Washington, one of the stars of Behind the Movement, said these stories are important to tell as he talked about the NAACP Image Award nominated feature film (Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special) at the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards Nominees Luncheon.
“We need about two thousand more of them,” Washington said at the well-attended event at the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Saturday, March 9. “Hollywood would make triple the amount of dollars if you just tell our stories. We have so many untold stories. The stories we have…just American history alone, we could make millions and millions of dollars like ‘Black Panther’ every year. I’m convinced. Just telling the stories of Americans history that have our contributions in them. I’m convinced of it.”
In playing the heavily understated but powerful E.D. Nixon, a major power player in getting the Montgomery Bus Boycott off the ground, Washington said he grappled with his own lack of knowledge about those behind-the-scenes individuals who were heavily involved in the movement. Nixon was president of the Alabama chapter of the NAACP and was very influential in voting rights advocacy and civil rights in the state.
In taking on the role of Nixon, Washington said he was surprised and challenged as an actor at what he didn’t know about the man he would be portraying.
“I didn’t know who E.D. Nixon was. That really inspired me out of my ignorance,” Washington said. “I didn’t know that Rosa Parks worked for E.D. Nixon, who was the first president of the NAACP in Montgomery, Alabama, and one of the stalwarts on the frontlines with A. Phillip Randolph, long before [Dr.] Martin Luther King. It was E.D. Nixon that put Martin Luther King on for the Montgomery Bus Boycott at that time in Montgomery, Alabama. The fact that I didn’t know who E.D. Nixon was drove me even more to dive in as much as I could with the time frame, I had to try to figure out who he was and what he contributed. I would love to a E.D. Nixon story on its own at some point before I get off this planet if that is possible. I’m convinced and coining him as the father of the Civil Rights Movement.”
For actress Meta Golding, who portrays Rosa Parks in Behind the Movement, the film captures the essence of what people don’t see about the Civil Rights Movement: ordinary people making sacrifices to create change.
“I feel like this story hasn’t really been told as specifically as we were able to tell it,” Golding said on the red carpet as she stood next to Roger Guenveur Smith, who portrays Parks’ husband, Raymond, in Behind the Movement. “A lot of people don’t know that there was so much organization and activism that went on to have the boycott go on in three days pre-social media and pre-telephone, so it was interesting how a community came together. I think it’s really important today because I think we all need to come together to teach.”
Trying to emulate Parks, one of the Civil Rights Movements most beloved figures, was not a walk in the park, she said. Golding said she felt the heat to get the role down right.
“The biggest challenges in playing someone who is so beloved and to live up to her legacy because she mean a lot to so many people, not just in America, but around the world, I felt just tremendous pressure just to attempt to capture some of her spirit,” Golding said.
Behind the Movement is a period film with a look back into the past at the country’s racial makeup and societal hang ups over six decades ago. Despite the wide gap in years, Guenveur Smith believes the film is important enough for Millennials and the Generation Z crowd to see it.
“We’re in Generation Z now. College students who are in their first years of studying now was born in another century. They were born in the 21st Century. They have no have direct memory of this movement,” Guenveur Smith said. “They have no direct memory of this thing called the World Trade Tower. So, when we’re educating, we’re educating all the way through a new century of history. And so, what we’re doing here is really essential to expose this history-not just to the young generation but to an older generation as well. A lot of people weren’t even aware that Rosa Parks was married. I think it’s important to know that Rosa and Raymond Parks were committed radicals, committed activists, dating all the way back to the 1930s.”
The person chiefly responsible for making Behind the Movement come to life is Katrina O’ Gilvie, nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Television category. O’ Gilvie said the biggest takeaway from the film for her is the power of unity.
“I think it’s a great reminder of what we can do when we band together. It’s a reminder of the power that we have, a great reminder that we still have work to do,” O’Gilvie said. “It’s a great reminder that there are seemingly ordinary people who are the true superheroes.”