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Nelson, Stanley(1951–) - Filmmaker, Chronology

black award filmmaking receives

Stanley Nelson, a premier filmmaker, has transformed the filmmaking industry by sharing true experiences. Combining interviews, photographic stills, and real footage, Nelson raises the awareness of the African American experience. As director, producer, and writer at Firelight Media/Half-Nelson Films, Nelson motivates, uplifts and moves audiences across the world.

Stanley Nelson was the second of four children born to Stanley E. Nelson and the former A’Lelia “Liel” Ransom. The elder Nelson was a Howard University trained dentist and the outspoken Ransom was a librarian. Their union produced four children: Lynn, Stanley, Jill, and Ralph.

The family grew up mostly in Harlem but later moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In an effort to instill the importance of perfection and excellence, the Nelson children attended mostly private schools and enjoyed summers vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard. The Nelsons enjoyed their stay at their property that overlooked the ocean. This was one of the few places where they seemed to escape the issues of race.

Nelson saw Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song as a teenager, and it gave him a keen awareness of cinema and its power of persuasion. Sweetback was the big screen’s first black ghetto hero and star of Melvin Van Peebles’ groundbreaking 1971 film. The movie opened doors for films about strong black characters. While some blacks did not embrace the genre, it paved the way for many African American writers, directors, and crewmembers. Nelson immediately wanted to create productions that evoked a sense of reaction. He saw filmmaking as a voice to highlight injustices and to calm pain.

During difficult times, such as his parents’ divorce or personal battles, a collection of film cans, videocassettes, and lighting equipment always lurked in the shadow as a sign of strength. All of his early life experiences set the foundation for his filmmaking projects.



Born in New York City on June 7


Receives B.F.A. degree in film from Leonard David Film School at City College


Produces first independent film


Begins series of documentaries for PBS


Receives funding from National Endowment for the Arts for Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords


Receives best non-fiction film award by Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame for Look for Me in the Whirlwind


Produces The Murder of Emmett Till , which causes U.S. Justice Department to reopen legal case; earns George Foster Peabody Award, Primetime Emmy Award, Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award, and Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for film

Nernst, (Hermann) Walther [next] [back] Nelson, Byron

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about 3 years ago

4020 Danforth Rd., SW #310
Atlanta, GA 30331
August 7, 2014



I have just created a screenplay about TRUE, violent events that occurred in 1917 Houston, TX involving the en masse hanging of 13, heroic, Black, Buffalo Soldiers, called THE HOUSTON ADJUSTMENT that I would like to submit for your consideration.

Set in 1917, Houston, TX an heroic troop of Black, Buffalo Soldiers becomes fed up with the rampant, rabid racism imposed upon them and they riot with violent, deadly, consequences for all.

Genre: Epic/historical:

An all Black American troop of the 24th Infantry, called Buffalo Soldiers, fresh back from heroic efforts in Europe and New Mexico, near the end of WWI, upon arrival in Housto encounter entrenched racism by White civilians and authorities. They came as MPs charged with guarding Camp Logan then under construction. Despite repeated reports to their superior officers about these indignities, no support is offered and they are ordered to "behave" and respect Houstonians as they are guests of Houston.

After suffering further, violent abuse and on the day of the shooting and killing of one of their own, a highly popular soldier, by a racist White Houston policeman, for the scantiest of reasons, enough had become enough. The armed troop became enraged and descended upon Houston, reaking havoc. The result: 17 civilian and police and four soldier deaths.

Following the ensuing Court Martial, where an entire group of nearly 100 men were Court Martialed and represented collectively by a single counsel who was not even a lawyer, all but a couple of the troop were convicted, 13 were sentenced to death by hanging and hanged in complete secrecy on the day of the verdict, all without appeal. The largest Court Martial in military history and the largest mass hanging in American Jurisprudence and a dastardly exercise of American jurisprudence.

I am a retired Black California trial lawyer of 31 years, and have written one other screenplay in the Sci-Fi genre. This is my first submission to a film professional.

If you are interested in reading the full-length screenplay of THE HOUSTON ADJUSTMENT, please let me know and I will mail or email you a copy.