In June, ASPiRE continues to air its popular series of “Groundbreaking Movies” on Thursdays, hosted by award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne (“Man of Steel”). Two of this month’s key movies are the network premieres of classic civil rights dramas For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Plus, to help celebrate national Black Music Month, ASPIRE will present the musical retrospective drama The Five Heartbeats, directed and starring Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Wayans. In addition, the network will feature videos and vignettes from a range of current and classic African-American artists and musicians.
“These three movies, in their unique way, recognize the beauty, complexity and drama of the African-American experience. June’s Groundbreaking Movies To Kill A Mockingbird and For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story capture two extraordinary men of their time on film,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler. “The stories of fictional, 1930s defense attorney and single dad Atticus Finch and valiant real-life civil rights activist and family man Medgar Evers will resonate with viewers, particularly around Father’s Day. Additionally, musical drama The Five Heartbeats celebrates Black Music Month. The legacy of African-American composers, singers, songwriters, and musicians is an indelible piece of our Nation’s culture.”
Furthermore, the Magic Johnson Foundation and ASPiRE support National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on Thursday, June 27. NHTD is an annual campaign to encourage people of all ages to “Take the Test, Take Control.” For more information, please go to magicjohnson.org and www.aspire.tv.
All times as follows are EDT:
· For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story (1983) ““ Howard Rollins stars as civil rights activist Medgar Evers, while Irene Cara co-stars as his wife (and future naacp chairperson) Myrlie. The film concentrates on Evers, a successful insurance agent turned activist, in the final years of his life as the first naacp field secretary in Mississippi. In 1954, he became involved in a boycott against white merchants and was instrumental in eventually desegregating the University of Mississippi in 1962. Despite death threats and physical assaults on his family, Evers vows to stay in Jackson, MS until the mission is complete. On June 12, 1963, however, the 37-year-old Evers was shot to death in front of his home by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. (Stars: Howard E. Rollins Jr., Irene Cara, Margaret Avery, Roscoe Lee Brown and Laurence Fishburne). Hosted by Laurence Fishburne. Thursday, June 13, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Fact: The film was based on the book, For Us, the Living, by Myrlie Evers-Williams and William Peters.
· To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) ““ An adaptation of Harper Lee’s best-selling novel, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a lawyer in 1932 Alabama who defends Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), an African-American man, against an undeserved rape charge ““ and his kids against prejudice. Told through the eyes of “Scout” (Mary Badham), a six-year-old tomboy. (Stars: Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Ruth White, Brock Peters and Robert Duvall). Hosted by Laurence Fishburne. Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Fact: To Kill a Mockingbird ranks 25th on the American Film Institute’s 10th anniversary list of the greatest American movies of all time. In 2003, AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.
· The Five Heartbeats (1991) ““ A musical drama film loosely based on the lives of several artists: The Dells, The Temptations, Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke and others) follows the three decade career of the R&B vocal group “The Five Heartbeats.” Directed by and starring Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Wayans, the movie depicts the rise and fall of this Motown-inspired soul act through the eyes of the film’s main protagonist, Donald “Duck” Matthews (portrayed by Townsend). (Stars: Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas, and Diahann Carroll). Saturday, June 29, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Fact: Released by Virgin Records, the movie’s soundtrack featured original music by various artists. Both “Nights Like This” by After 7 and “A Heart Is a House for Love” by The Dells became top 20 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart.