Lizard Productions

 

God's Perfect Hate

 

James Byrd, Jr.
1949-1998
 

FROM HATE TO HEALING: THE LONG ROAD HOME

A documentary about how the murder of James Byrd, Jr.
opened the eyes of  the Texas legislature to hate crime.
 

 

Watch the
Remember His Name
trailer directed by Rich Thorne
and Liz Latham.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE FILM


PURPOSE OF
"
Remember His Name"

This documentary is being created as a tool that promotes education and dialogue toward ending violence and hate crime in the United States

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PROMOTION / DISTRIBUTION 

The video, entitled "Remember His Name," will be a tool to promote education and dialogue toward ending hate crime in America. The documentary is intended to air on national television, and will include a curriculum guide for all ages to promote discussion, training, and basic education about the subject of hate crime.  This documentary also works to ensure that children and adults from all backgrounds are made aware of the issues surrounding Mr. Byrd's death, and helps viewers gain knowledge about U.S. hate crime legislation at the state and national levels. "Remember His Name" will be packaged for distribution to the global video market, first targeting public schools and libraries, universities, and social studies curriculum for all ages. We will be seeking television and film festival audiences once the documentary is completed.

THE EVOLUTION OF "Remember His Name"

"Remember His Name" documents two events: the heinous murder of James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old black resident of Jasper, Texas, and the struggle to pass the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in Texas.  The story of the murder is related mainly through interviews: Billy Rowles, Sheriff of Jasper, Guy James Gray, the District Attorney from Jasper, Dr. Tommy Brown, the Forensic Pathologist in Beaumont who conducted Byrd's autopsy, Sonny Cribbs, defense attorney for convicted murderer John William King, Ronald King, father of John William King and interviews with local residents from Jasper, Texas and with prison officials in Huntsville.

When I first started this documentary in December 1998, my plan was to document three recent and notable hate crimes in America:  Oumar Dia, the Mauritanian man who was shot to death at a bus stop in Denver; Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was beaten and left to die while tied to a fence in Laramie, WY; and James Byrd, Jr., the black man who was dragged to his death behind a pick up truck by three white men who needed to kill a "nigger" or a "Jew" for an initiation rite into their newly formed two-member white supremacist group.

I am sad to acknowledge that since this production began, numerous violent hate crimes that have resulted in wounding and killing many people have occurred in the United States.  Such inexplicable outbreaks of random violence throughout this country have caused me to refocus on the intended outcome of this documentary.  I will pay tribute to hate-crime victims and their survivors during a special memorial segment of this program, but concentrate the body of the documentary on one specific hate crime: the murder of James Byrd Jr. 

As a result of Byrd's murder, there were two attempts at passing the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in Texas.  The 1999 attempt passed in the house but failed to pass in the senate when Governor George W. Bush was in office and running for President.   In May of 2001, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry after narrow passage in the Texas Senate.  The story of this legislation is told through interviews with sponsors of the bill Rep. Senfronia Thompson and Senator Rodney Ellis, as well as with numerous other activists and citizens who mounted the campaign for the bill's passage.

THE TEAM

Lizard Productions, founded by documentary filmmaker and activist Liz Latham, is a Seattle based film company that produced "We're Here To Stay", a documentary film about the History of Hands Off Washington and the Politics of Hate in Washington State.  The film premiered at Seattle's Historic Paramount Theatre in May of 1998 and is currently in distribution to national public libraries and universities for their social studies collections. This film is a "primer" for political activists and is a story about Hands Off Washington (HOW).  To this day, the Hands Off Washington model serves as the primary paradigm in statewide community grassroots organizing.

Liz Latham - Executive Producer and Director.  In 1998, Latham produced, directed and shot her first documentary, "We're Here To Stay" about the history of Hands Off Washington and the Politics of Hate in Washington State.  Latham produced a short video on Hands Off Washington entitled Heroes Are Everywhere, for Hands Off Washington's annual breakfast in 1996.  She was executive director, producer and host for the cable television series Seattle Commons - It's a Park, and also programmed a weekly television series for the Seattle Public Schools Instructional Broadcast Center.  In addition, Latham has worked for the acclaimed Seattle Weekly.  A former legislative aide to King County Councilmember Maggi Fimia, Latham brings extraordinary organizational, management and political skills to this project.  An accomplished pianist, she holds a BS in Radio, Television, and Film from the University of Maryland.  Latham's past community/political activities include a term as Board President of Seattle's Lesbian Resource Center, Commissioner with the Seattle Commission for Lesbians and Gays and as Precinct Committee Officer in Seattle's "eclectic" 43rd District. Latham has been a campaign worker for Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago, Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, and for the past King County Executive campaign of present Washington State Governor Gary Locke.  She is also a past board member of Hands Off Washington.  She has organized numerous large events including the 1995 Washington State Democratic Annual Banquet featuring the former Governor of Texas, Ann Richards.  

Seattle Public Schools Media Alternatives Project:  Aki Kurose Middle School Academy, Brighton Elementary, and Rainier Beach High School are currently involved in a grant which fosters media literacy and violence prevention to at-risk youth.  The schools are under Title One, are high poverty schools and are located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood.  All three schools have a very diverse ethnic population.  The violence prevention curriculum has been developed to target at-risk youth to solve their problems through non-violent means, through producing public service announcements, and documentaries centered around violence.  Aki Kurose Middle School has a state-of-the-art television studio and editing facilities.  They have made an in-kind donation for Latham to complete the final edit on the documentary, and she has already begun mentoring two Rainier Beach students as part of the after-school grants program.  These students are gaining invaluable school-to-work experience as they assist her with her edit and curriculum supplement planning of the James Byrd, Jr. documentary.  Latham also serves on the Media Alternatives Project board of directors and advises staff and students on production and promotion of their original media projects.  Students have already won local and national awards for their work, which include interviews with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Patty Murray, and artist Jacob Lawrence.  The students' work has been featured on local Seattle television stations FOX13, and KING 5.

KEY PROJECT SPONSORSHIP AND SUPPORT

Corbis, one of the world's leading providers of digital images and other media, has donated the use of their online image gallery to the documentary. This in-kind gift is worth well over $50,000 and we are delighted to have them as a corporate sponsor! Please see the press release dated 12/13/02 for more information.

Continental Airlines, Inc. is based in Houston, Texas and most graciously contributed all production crew airline transportation during the entirety of this project.

The Yip Harburg Foundation was founded in the name of Yip Harburg - a nationally acclaimed theatre and film lyricist who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era.  This family foundation contributes funding to documentary and film projects focusing on human rights topics and social justice issues. To date, the Yip Harburg Foundation has contributed $13,000 to the production of "Remember His Name."

Representative Senfronia Thompson is a 30-year member of the Texas State House of Representatives and is the chief sponsor of the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act.  Her staff member Patrick Johnson and partner Kelly "Key-Gripe" Martino provided Latham with housing, meals and ground transportation for her 10 trips to Austin while she documented the legislative process, and interviewed citizens and activists.

Donors * Corporate * Foundation * In-Kind:  Karrie Baas - Baas Gallery, Rockville United Methodist Church, Doug Kamm - Bexel, Rockville United Methodist Women, K&L Distributors, George Suyama and the George Suyama Gallery, Christine Keff - Flying Fish Restaurant, Uncle Roy's Catering, Marco - Lush Life, University Congregational Church of Christ, Geoff Manasse Photography, Doug Vanderhoof - Modern Media, Gabi Clayton, ClaytonWorks Web Design, Mercer Island United Methodist Church, Patrinell Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir, Pacific Northwest Conference - United Methodist Church, And many wonderful individuals!

PRESS

 

At the White House - by Alec Clayton, November 1, 2009

Filmmaker's focus is hate crimes - Puget Sound Business Journal, 2/28/03  (opens in a new window)  

School project teaches hard lessons about hate - Seattle Times, 12/19/02  (no longer on line)

Press release: Aki Kurose Middle School students work with independent filmmaker and Corbis on the production of educational documentary about hate crime - 12/13/02

Remember His Name - Seattle filmmaker Liz Latham documents the killing of James Byrd, Jr. - Seattle Gay News, 4/20/01 (no longer on line)