Augusta is a 'premiere' destination -- so get on up and sing it, everyone!

 

Dear Augusta:

For far too long you have been given a bad rap, while there is so much for you to be proud of.

Back in November 2008 our video production company had the idea to show a documentary that we had just completed on the Tuskegee Airmen. After all, many in this area had helped the documentary come to fruition. What better way to repay them?

 

WHEN MENTIONING our grand idea, we were told by quite a few people it would be a futile effort. “Augusta does not support, nor will she ever support, one of her own. You probably should take this viewing to a much larger
city.”

Thank God our company doesn’t listen to naysayers. We went forward with our plan and had a sellout at the Imperial Theatre that following January.

Besides accepting Christ, getting married and witnessing the birth of my son, that showing at the Imperial Theatre of our first documentary was one of the best nights of my life. It was not necessarily because of the success of the documentary, but more so the crowded seats, filled with whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, young and old. An 840-seat venue was filled to the brim with my people – Augustans.

The Tuskegee Airmen in attendance have not forgotten how well they were received. Three men in their late 80s and early 90s told me with tears in their eyes how special our city was, and how it made them feel so very welcome. One of the airmen, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a POW, was absolutely thrilled to see a mural hanging in Springfield Baptist Church of his grandfather, who was the first pastor there.

 

I HAVE READ A lot of local write-ups recently regarding the Get On Up movie premiere. Some of these articles focused on why the movie did not portray Augusta in “the best light,” and “Why was it not filmed in Augusta?” and “Why has there been so little national press for our city?” James Brown put Augusta on the map, so why not endorse that in the movie?

While these are valid questions, Universal Pictures did in fact do something quite flattering and downright amazing for the city of Augusta during the night of the premiere.

 

OUR COMPANY has been working with daughter Deanna Brown the past two-and-a-half years on a documentary project called JAMP: The Legacy of James Brown. The story is inspirational, and an incredible showpiece and statement about what good can come out of Augusta. It is a documentary that shows the best side of James Brown, as it focuses on what he wanted more than anything in this world: children learning his music, and getting positive starts to what are not always positive lives.

Universal Pictures graciously allowed our documentary teaser to be played at the various movie premieres for Get On Up. This was an enormous gesture from the movie giant. It is practically unheard of for a company such as Universal to allow a teaser to be shown the night of a premiere, as they rightfully want all of the focus that night to be on the intended feature.

Universal was touched by Augusta’s overwhelming desire to have a premiere in our city, and felt the content of the documentary teaser really spoke to the real character of James Brown. Universal felt so strongly about it that the teaser was shown at premieres outside Augusta.

Deanna Brown worked tirelessly to ensure Universal understood the kind of people her city is made of, and how deserving we all are. Those efforts produced the excellent opportunity for our city to be shown in such a positive manner – to show the incredible good that can come out of Augusta with the documentary, and the level of support Augusta will show for one of its own.

 

I FELT IT NECESSARY to write this to you, Augusta, because sometimes you seem to miss out on your blessings that are not as loudly announced. Sometimes it seems the negative speakers are louder than the positive ones. But we are out here, and we are determined to speak up.

We need your support to continue creating work that reaches far beyond your boundaries, such as our Tuskegee Airmen project – work that will inspire others to carry on. A clip from that documentary has made its way to the education arm of McGraw Hill, which placed it in high schools across the country as inspiration for graduating seniors. I’d say that adds another marker on the national map for Augusta.

 

PLEASE CONTINUE to support those who have the vision to, as the Tuskegee Airmen told us, “look far beyond our supposed station in life.”

I guess what I want you to know most about yourself, Augusta, is that I love you and I want the best for you. I always will try to remind you of your greatness, nudge you when you are tired and even give a helping hand. Our most famous citizen gave you the road map so many years ago. He said it loud and proud that the first step to greatness is to “get up offa that thing” – recognize, and do something positive.

God bless you, Augusta.

 

(The writer is co-owner of Bryton Entertainment LLC in North Augusta, S.C.)

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