PBS film chronicles untold story of African-American service
January 29, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 29, 2010) -- To commemorate Black History Month and honor African Americans who served, "For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots" will air during February on Public Broadcasting System stations across the country.
The two-part documentary, produced with the Army's cooperation, tells the untold story of African Americans' service in the military throughout the nation's history to win and protect freedoms they themselves often didn't enjoy.
Hosted by Halle Berry, narrated by Avery Brooks, and introduced by retired Gen. Colin Powell, the four-hour documentary begins at the dawn of U.S. history to tell the story of African Americans who risked their lives to win and protect American freedom while striving to acquire it themselves.
In addition to film footage and photos, For Love of Liberty uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text, and military records to document the accomplishments of African Americans who served in the military since the republic's earliest days. Their personal stories give a moving account of service and sacrifice, from the Revolutionary War - whose first casualty was a black man, Crispus Attucks - to today's war against global terrorism.
"It is a wonderful story...of a group of Americans who never lost their love of this country, never lost their faith in it or what the founding fathers had promised them," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell. "And that's why this story is simply called, For Love of Liberty."
Praised by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, For Love of Liberty is much more than a collection of historical facts and figures. It shares the compelling personal stories of men and women who make up the fabric of an inspiring narrative. Their first-hand accounts are told by a Who's Who of prominent entertainers and public figures.
Those who lent their voices include: Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Susan Sarandon, Louis Gossett Jr., Ossie Davis, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Elliot, and Delroy Lindo. Sound bytes are included from Walter Cronkite, Isaac Hayes, John Goodman, Jesse L. Martin, Peter Coyote, Ice-T, James Garner, Robert Townsend, Alan Rickman, and Roscoe Lee Browne.
Other participants include Ruby Dee, John Amos, Eriq La Salle, Angela Bassett, Chris Cooper, Alfre Woodard, Cliff Robertson, and Blair Underwood, plus Charles Dutton, Kris Kristofferson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Donald Sutherland, and Isaiah Washington.
The words they deliver convey an epic saga of perseverance and triumph, which the film brings to life through rare photographs, archival materials, re-enactments, personal memorabilia, historical paintings, and posters. Also included is original footage of hundreds of monuments, battlefields, memorials, and other historic sites in more than 20 states and in Europe.
"Our goal is to raise public consciousness about this extraordinary and little-known aspect of our nation's history, and I'm deeply indebted to all those who've supported our commitment to get this story told," said Frank Martin, the film's director. "Throughout the film we look at why, despite rampant injustice, heroic black men and women fought so valiantly for freedoms they themselves did not enjoy. The theme that echoes across the centuries - the price of liberty - is one that is relevant to all Americans."
Acclaimed actor Louis Gossett Jr., one of the film's executive producers, said: "For Love of Liberty has the power to forever change perceptions about the vital role African Americans have played during the entire course of U.S. military history. I'm honored to be part of this important and ground-breaking film, and thankful to all my fellow actors who have helped to bring this story to life."
In addition to giving overdue recognition and honor to an unheralded aspect of America's past, For Love of Liberty also includes African Americans who are shaping the future.
Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward, the first and current commander of U.S. Africa Command, will appear in an Army Recruiting Command video that will include a half-hour segment of the For Love of Liberty film. Ward's interview segment was recorded by Soldiers Radio and Television staff in the SRTV studio.
Ward said young men and women will see how becoming a Soldier builds skills that enable success throughout life.
"The life skills, the discipline, character and responsibility you achieve while being a Soldier is transferable and will serve you in good stead in whatever field you choose," Ward said.