As the NAACP prepares to meet in Detroit for its 98th Annual Convention, planners are likely to place the issue of black representation in movies and on television high on its agenda.
Despite lip service to the contrary, Hollywood is still woefully negligent when it comes to promoting minority talent to the networks and production studios.
“The recently announced fall TV season and “soft” summer film lineup certainly indicates a disconnect on some level when it comes to minority talent,” says Gil Robertson IV, president of the African American Film Critics Association.
In an effort to quell a growing storm of protest, the NAACP, under the direction of interim president Dennis Courtland Hayes, recently requested employment data from all the major talent agencies in Hollywood. This inquiry is part of the organization’s follow up to its landmark “Out of Focus, Out of Synch” report from 2003.
“The major agencies in Hollywood have long failed to employ minority agents, and this environment reflects an ongoing insensitivity to the importance of diversity at the networks and throughout the entertainment industry,” Robertson adds.
Among other topics to be tackled during the five-day gathering are healthcare, education, economics, criminal justice, voting rights, women’s empowerment, leveraging political power, the N-word, the armed services, religion, and the state of young black America. The event will also offer entertainment, including a gospel extravaganza headlined by recording artist CeCe Winans, plus a Motown revue with The Spinners, The Temptations, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
The convention, which runs from July 7th to 12th, will feature a pair of keynote addresses to be delivered by ex-President Bill Clinton and by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. Numerous Democratic luminaries like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be participating, while the ranking Republicans set to attend is Homeland Security Czar Michael Chertoff.
Anyone unable to be there in person might want to watch the live webcast sponsored by AT&T which will deliver over 25 hours of coverage from the floor of the convention.