NEW YORK – March 3, 2008 – Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., MSNBC will premiere "Meeting David Wilson," the remarkable and inspiring story of a young man's reconciliation with his ancestors' history as slaves. The world premiere of "Meeting David Wilson," on April 11 at 9 p.m. ET will be hosted by "Today" Correspondent Tiki Barber and followed by a 90-minute live discussion of racial issues in America. The live event will be moderated by "NBC Nightly News" Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams and held at Howard University in Washington, D.C. "Meeting David Wilson" is produced by Official Pictures, LLC. The entire broadcast event is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.
"Just days after the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, it is fitting that we air this special presentation," said Steve Capus, President, NBC News. "With this documentary, and the conversation that will take place immediately following, our hope is to open the dialogue, encourage better understanding of the issues, and, hopefully, shine new light on the current state of race relations in our country today."
"Meeting David Wilson"
Meet David Wilson: David Wilson is a 28-year-old African-American man from Newark, New Jersey. He grew up in a tough, urban neighborhood, but managed to navigate his way out of poverty and into the world of news production in New York City. Now, meet David Wilson: David Wilson is a 62-year-old white man from rural North Carolina. He grew up in Caswell County, where his ancestors once farmed tobacco. He now operates a small chain of BBQ restaurants in nearby Reidsville, where he lives with his wife and son.
Although they have never met, the two men share more than just a name - one David's ancestors were once enslaved by the other's forebears in the antebellum South. In "Meeting David Wilson," the two men come face-to-face to confront their storied past. The 90-minute documentary records the unusual "family reunion" as the New Jersey Wilson family travels back to the North Carolina plantations to meet the white Wilsons; meeting on the very same plantation where lives were sacrificed and where racial equality was once unthinkable.
Will their worlds collide? How will they deal with the gravity of their family's histories and issues like reparations? Scenes of North Carolina and New Jersey - with past and present-day realities of black Americans - pepper the film and raise questions about how the black community has fared since its migration to the north. "Meeting David Wilson" provides compelling perspective on the legacy of slavery in America by chronicling the personal stories of these two men and their momentous encounter.
"What you have in the two of us is the story of two races and two generations honestly talking about the dark cloud of slavery and its continuing impact on our families and our lives even today,' said director David Wilson. "We intend to ignite a candid and unprecedented conversation about race."
MSNBC Live Event
NBC News will air a live discussion immediately following "Meeting David Wilson," at 10:30 p.m. ET on MSNBC. The live discussion, which will be broadcast from Howard University's Washington, D.C. campus and stream live on msnbc.com, will focus on racial themes in America. "NBC Nightly News" Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams will moderate the event. Williams will be joined by "Today" Correspondent Tiki Barber.
Both the premiere of "Meeting David Wilson" and the NBC News live discussion event will stream live on msnbc.com. Msnbc.com will also create a special online section for the "Meeting David Wilson" documentary and feature content that addresses issues discussed in the film, such as race and identity, as well as include other stories and video from pivotal moments in Black History.
Ford Motor Company
"Partnering with NBC on "Meeting David Wilson" is not only exciting but also has a great deal of historical value," said Crystal Greene, Sponsorships & Diverse Markets Manager for Ford. "We have a chance to play a role in a discussion that may be remembered for years to come, while at the same time giving us a chance to display Ford's historic legacy as one of the nation's first equal opportunity employers to the forefront of today's society where that legacy continues. David Wilson's story is also a Ford story, as members of his own family came north to work for Ford in the hopes of a better life. David's goals for the documentary are similar to our own goals as a company when you think about imparting the important message of inclusiveness and seeing people as valued individuals."
"Meeting David Wilson" credits: Daniel J. Woolsey is director and cinematographer. David A. Wilson is director and writer. Barion L. Grant is producer. Timothy Dixon is editor. Pete Menzies and Suzanne H. Woolsey are executive producers.
NBC News credits: Michael Rubin is vice president, long-form programming, MSNBC. Scott Hooker is senior executive producer, documentary production and development, MSNBC. Vicki Sufian is senior producer, "Meeting David Wilson" for MSNBC. Lyne Pitts is vice president, NBC News, and executive producer. Phil Alongi is executive producer. Mark Lukasiewicz is executive producer.