A Sunday “Dateline NBC” program about Greenwood and black former Lusco’s waiter Booker Wright received mostly positive reviews from national viewers on Twitter.
But what about the folks at home?
Several of the participants in a roundtable interview featured briefly in the show weighed in this morning.
Mayor Carolyn McAdams said she thought for the most part the program was good. However, she said, it didn’t fully reflect the huge changes Greenwood has made since the 1960s.
“It’s a whole different world than it was,” she said.
Allan Hammons said the episode was what he expected.
“I thought it was a fairly well-done piece. There were some things that I would take exception with,” the Greenwood advertising executive said this morning.
Specifically, speculation that whites may have been behind Wright’s death left viewers to draw their own conclusions, he said. No real evidence has been uncovered to support that theory.
Wright was killed in 1973, seven years after a 1966 broadcast of an NBC documentary in which Wright, also a South Greenwood restaurant owner, spoke out about how he felt demeaned by his white customers And the man still sitting in prison for the crime, Lloyd “Blackie” Cork, who is black, has never come forward with allegations of a conspiracy.
The murder seems like a straightforward case: On the night of the killing, Wright had kicked Cork out of his cafe after Cork became disruptive, and Cork returned shortly in a rage and shot Wright with a shotgun.
Most of the “Dateline” episode centered on a quest by the original filmmaker’s son, Ray De Felitta, and Wright’s granddaughter, Yvette Johnson, to find out more about who Wright was.
The last six minutes or so were devoted to how Greenwood is doing now.
“The Booker Wright story certainly needs to be told, as we cannot ignore the plight of African-Americans during that era,” Angela Curry, executive director of the Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Board, said in a statement. “However, I wish the segment would have projected a more positive image of Greenwood. No, we are not where we should be as far as race relations are concerned, but this community has made more progress than depicted by NBC. An outsider looking at this story would think that Greenwood has not progressed at all. Perception is everything, and that is what we are working tirelessly to change.”
Kelvin Scott, president-elect of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce, said, “I thought it did a great job of telling Booker’s story, and it did give segue into what we hope the future of Greenwood is.”
Scott said it’s impossible for an hourlong program to encapsulate everything about a city; he said it’s up to Greenwood’s citizens, not the national media or other people from the outside, to choose what the future holds for the city.
“It’s totally on us,” he said.
What did you think of the “Dateline NBC” segment?
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