Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” ©
By Alton H. Maddox, Jr., “Attorney-at-War”
On “60 Minutes” last Sunday night, there was a discussion with Nate Parker, who plays the role of Nat Turner in “The Birth of a Nation”. The premier may happen this week. I have always had an interest in Nat Turner. My research has shown that his “insurrection” prompted the Virginia General Assembly to come within four votes of liberating all “slaves” in Virginia.
Malcolm X said: “Of all the disciplines history is best qualified to reward our research, Nat Turner should be given his ‘propers’.” I know of no venue in New York City that has given proper deference to this “freedom fighter”. This is shameful in a city where blacks constitute the largest and oldest ethnic group.
Courthouses have always been of great fascination to me. Beyond my second trial in New York, I had vowed to never try a case until I controlled the courthouse. I kept my promise. Initially, I had to desegregate the courthouses in New York City. I have an audiotape of attorney Phroska McAllister praising me for being a “Rosa Parks”. This happened a decade after Brown v. Bd. of Ed.
I asked all black lawyers to appear at the arraignment of the “Central Park 7”. No black lawyer accepted the invitation pro bono. Clara Jones, Harold and Eloise Dicks and Roy Canton et al had asked me to represent one of the defendants, Michael Briscoe pro bono against a political duopoly, a special interest group and a pressure group with no war chest. I not only showed up, my client walked.
Twenty-seven years later, we should take another stab at it to save Ramsey Orta. Pressure should first be applied to the National Bar Association(202- 842-3900, Fax: 202-315-3051), followed by the Metropolitan Bar Association (212-964-1645) and black law enforcement associations and organizations. It is no time for black organizations and associations to remain silent.