PBS Educational Program Based on True Story of Racially-Motivated Murder Takes Third Industry Award of Excellence

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This month, the PBS educational program “WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project” took the Videographer Awards' 2006 "Award of Excellence for Creativity/Cinematography. In March 2006, the program, which is licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District, won a Silver Telly Award, the highest award for cultural programming, and the Bronze Telly for achievement in set design.

The Videographer Awards is an international awards program directed by communications professionals to honor talented individuals and companies in the video production field who raise the standards of the industry. May 1, 2006 San Francisco Bay Area educator, activist and former stand-up comedian Carl Ray learned the KLCS-TV studio-taped adaptation of his acclaimed autobiographical play and compelling film documentary had been awarded this top prize. The PBS educational program titled “WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project” highlights Ray's own real-life rendition of Jim Crow-era life for blacks. The multi-award winning program was bestowed the Videographer Awards' 2006 "Award of Excellence for Creativity/Cinematography," the highest honor presented for projects deemed written, produced, shot and edited with exceptional skill and presentation. “WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project” was selected from among 2,327 entries from throughout the United States and several foreign countries.

The Telly Awards honor outstanding local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions. In March 2006, “WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project” won a Silver Telly Statuette, the highest award for cultural programming, and the Bronze Telly for achievement in set design. Judges chose the program over 12,000 other entries.


In 1962 in Choctaw County, Alabama, 18-year-old Carl Ray witnessed his father's gruesome racially motivated 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.

Since 1999, Carl Ray has relived the gripping story of witnessing his father's 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 "Why History Matters," and for the Los Angeles School District "Facing History and Ourselves" curriculum. KLCS Channel 58 aired the film documentary and the taped play “WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project” in October 2005.

“Carl Ray’s story helps people to understand the pain, isolation and horror that are caused by racism and intolerance,” said KLCS-TV producer/director Brian Heffron. “KLCS management and the talented people involved in the production are delighted and proud to have played a part in bringing Mr. Ray’s message of forgiveness to Los Angeles Unified School District students and our local TV audience.” Heffron continued, “The fact that the program is now being independently recognized with various awards is truly icing on the cake. The only thing that would please us more is for the program to be exposed to a national audience. We feel that "“WHY HISTORY MATTERS: the Choctaw Project”" has something of value for everyone in the USA to hear and see.”

“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. The program piloted in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

:: 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 about Carl Ray's fascinating story or his bi-annual Black College Tours, please visit http://www.carlraye.com

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