Ford attends Emmy Awards ceremony following nomination of ‘American Reckoning’

Published 10:58 am Friday, October 13, 2023

Denise Jackson Ford, daughter of slain civil rights leader, Wharlest Jackson Sr., recently traveled to New York to participate in the 44th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony for documentaries that included PBS Frontline’s “American Reckoning.”

The PBS program, which featured the story of Wharlest Jackson’s murder, aired on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. It did not win an Emmy, but Ford said she was happy that it was nominated, and her participation was a good experience.

“Back in July of 2023, notifications were received from Brad Lichtenstein, president and producer of 371 Productions that our documentary film, ‘American Reckoning’ had been nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy in the category of ‘Outstanding Historical Documentary,’ Ford said.

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“I had the privilege to accompany the team in New York on Sept. 28 to be amongst the crowd of highly performed documentarians, finalists, and writers as well as producers.”

The awards ceremony was held at the Palladium Times Square in New York City. HBO Max’s “Hostages” won the Emmy in the “Outstanding Historical Documentary” category.

Others in the running were CNN’s “Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal,” Netflix’s “Meltdown: Three Mile Island,” and PBS’ “Waterman – Duke: Ambassador of Aloha.”

Ford said it was an honor to know that they made it to the nomination list for “such a great, prestigious award.” “I commend Brad Lichtenstein and Yoruba Richen, Stanley Nelson, along with the PBS Production team for the work, time and efforts put into this documentary to make history for our family,” Ford said.

“American Reckoning” was directed by Lichtenstein and Richen.

The film is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of Wharlest Jackson Sr. and his murder in the Feb. 27, 1967, bombing of his truck by the Ku Klux Klan on Minor Street in Natchez. Jackson was the treasurer for the Natchez Branch of the NAACP.

The Klan killed him, reportedly, because of his promotion to a job at Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company that had traditionally gone to white employees.

After multiple investigations, no one was ever held accountable for Jackson’s murder.

The film presents new research as it chronicles the lives of Jackson’s family in their search for justice and answers.

As noted by Frontline, “American Reckoning” presents “an extraordinary look at the civil rights era, the violence and resistance, through rare footage filmed more than 50 years ago in Natchez, and the still-unresolved killing of local NAACP leader Wharlest Jackson.”

The film, Frontline notes, “examines Black opposition to racist violence in Mississippi, spotlighting a little-known armed resistance group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice, woven alongside the Jackson family’s decades-long search for justice amid the ongoing federal effort to investigate civil rights era cold cases.”

In addition to Ford and her brother, Wharlest Jackson Jr., the film features Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-Clifford M. Boxley, and Stanley Nelson, author of two books on the Klan.

“American Reckoning” can be viewed for free online.

The Emmy awards program honors programming content from over 2,300 submissions that originally premiered in calendar-year 2022, according to the program’s website.

It noted the submissions are “judged by a pool of over 1,000 peer professionals from across the television and streaming/digital media news and documentary industry.”