PBS Develops Black Play "A Killing in Choctaw" for Educational Curriculum - "WHY HISTORY MATTERS: The Choctaw Project" ... Play Poised for Commercial Acquisition

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In 1962 in Choctaw County, Alabama an eighteen-year-old black man was questioned by a white man. Responding to the white man, the young man answered "yes" and "no" instead of "yes, sir" and "no, sir" as was customary when addressing white people. The white man severely beat the young man for disrespecting him; an hour later the still enraged white man showed up at the young black man’s home and shot his father eight times on his front porch steps; murdered him in cold blood as the young man looked on helplessly. The murder trial that followed became a circus; the eighteen-year-old black man was blamed for causing his own father's death since he failed to respect the white man. Lawyers for the white man appealed to the Alabama courts to banish the young man from the state until he learned how to talk to white people. Life was never be the same for Carl Ray.

Since 1999, San Jose, Calif. educator, activist and former stand-up comic Carl Ray has relived the gripping story of witnessing his father's 1962 racially motivated murder in the form of an acclaimed one-man, single act play titled "A Killing in Choctaw." Los Angeles Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) KLCS created a set replicating the Alabama courtroom where the actual murder trial took place; filled it with jurors and spectators; then 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 on October 25 and the play WHY HISTORY MATTERS: The Choctaw Project on October 26 and October 30, 2005.

KLCS television producer Brian Hefferon contacted Ray after reading The New York Times review of the play's documentary film version - "A Killing In Choctaw: The Power of Forgiveness," directed by award-winning filmmaker Chike C. Nwoffiah. Ray agreed to lend his story for educational television programming.

"The KLCS request kind of took me by surprise," Ray said. "It's great that my life story is going to be the focal point of the civil rights study. Ray continued, "My Father still lives and will be remember in American history. I'm proud of that. But it's not just my story. It's an African American story. Incidents like this happen to thousands of African American families."

After viewing the play, "Facing History" students from Jefferson and Westchester High Schools participated in a dialogue with Ray about growing up during the Jim Crow era and how Ray was eventually able to forgive the man who killed his father.

“WHY HISTORY MATTERS: The Choctaw Project” is a partnership between KLCS, Della Productions (Ray's production company) and "Facing History and Ourselves" to create this new resource and provide supplemental materials for the study of the Jim Crow Era and Civil Rights Movement. Piloted in the Los Angeles Unified School District, other PBS educational stations are expected to air it for educational programming.

Ray has performed "A Killing in Choctaw" nearly 130 times before live audiences. He continues to perform his compelling single-act, one-man play at theaters, churches, colleges, museums and other venues throughout the United States.” Carl Ray's story is available for commercial acquisition.

For interviews, press kits, invitations to lecture or perform his one-man play "A Killing in Choctaw," please contact Toni Beckham, 408-499-3664.

To learn more of Carl Ray's fascinating biography, please visit http://www.carlraye.com

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Toni Beckham
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