Sunday, October 16, 2005

WEDU Scores with an ‘Extraordinary’ Life

WEDU describes “Extraordinary Grace: The Reverend A. Leon Lowry” as “a tribute to one of the Tampa Bay Area’s leaders in equality, opportunity, and education.” It is that. But it something more: It is yet another example of what EDU can do when it puts its mind – and money – to the task at hand.
(See TBM’s “Putting the ‘Journal’ Back Into Journalism,” Sept. 25.)

There is not time or space here to recap Dr. Lowry’s “extraordinary” life; for that, TBM suggests you read the well-written obituary, published August 21, 2005, in the St. Petersburg Times.

Suffice to say, as the Associated Press did via MSNBC: “The Rev. A. Leon Lowry, a prominent local civil rights leader who once taught Martin Luther King Jr. and led the desegregation of public facilities in Tampa, has died at 92.”

He taught Dr. King; he helped changed Tampa.

What a life . . .


But this is not so much about Dr. Lowry, as it is about EDU.

That said, the Rev. Dr. Lowry was pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional Church, headed the local chapter of NAACP, helped found Tampa's first biracial bank, became the first black member of the Hillsborough County School Board and served on the WEDU Board of Directors – all milestones that took place after he taught theology at Morehouse College, where his students included a young man named Martin Luther King Jr.

The Florida Sentinel Bulletin (rightly) notes “Lowry's life story is almost a history of race relations – not only in Tampa.”

Education officials in Hillsborough County at least – if not the Bay area as a whole – should consider taking “Extraordinary Grace: The Reverend A. Leon Lowry” into classrooms next February during Black History Month.

But, let’s go one better: Perhaps WEDU can re-broadcast the entire episode and coordinate a discussion of race relations in the community at large, marshaling the full force of its considerable talents. Provoking editorials. Planning round-table discussions. And even more . . . Messages from the pulpit. Marches. Meditations. Now that would be an example of Public Television at work.

Why wait until there is blood in the streets before community leaders (media, included) pipe up, and say, “Let’s talk”?

It would be a fitting tribute to Rev. Lowry, and his slain student, Dr. King, if influential community leaders (amongst them, those in the media) got together and brought visibility to an issue that is all too often forgotten – or (conveniently) ignored.

* * *

And, now, this additive, production quality of “Extraordinary Grace: The Reverend A. Leon Lowry” – already high in editing, photography and writing – was taken to the next level by the addition of voice-over artist Ezra Knight. You may not know Knight, but you’ve probably heard his voice, featured, as it has been, in so many places, including MTV, the Today Show, Food TV and the Tomb Raiders 2 trailer. Still not sure? Then click here for a sampler of Knight's work.


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