Resolution J2031-2013

Mourning the death of Harlem, New York, native William Miles, noted historian and legendary filmmaker



  • May 23, 2013: ADOPTED
  • May 21, 2013: REFERRED TO FINANCE


LEGISLATIVE  RESOLUTION  mourning  the death of Harlem, New York, native
William Miles, noted historian and legendary filmmaker

WHEREAS, It is the custom of this Legislative Body  to  pay  tribute  to
citizens  of  the  State  of  New York whose lifework and civic endeavor
served to enhance the quality of life in their communities and the great
State of New York; and
  WHEREAS, William "Bill" Miles of Harlem, New York died on Sunday,  May
12, 2013, at the age of 82; and
  WHEREAS,  William  Miles  was  born  in  Harlem, New York, in 1931 and
became a documentary filmmaker whose work focused on the cultural  expe-
rience  and achievements of African-Americans; the subjects of his films
ranged from the unique history of Harlem to the  underreported  contrib-
utions of African-Americans in the military, space programs, sports, and
their historical role in migrating out to the Western part of the United
States; and
  WHEREAS,  As  a  young boy, William Miles lived across the street from
the historic Apollo Theater and was fully aware of the vibrant  African-
American  culture and was equally aware of how the media of the dominant
culture constantly ignored contributions by African-Americans; and
  WHEREAS, This led William Miles on a life-long pursuit  to  bring  the
stories  of African-Americans to the screen; materials from the Film and
Media Archive at Washington  University  collections  acquired  in  2005
include  interviews,  stock  footage,  manuscripts, correspondence and a
large collection of photographs; and
  WHEREAS, William Miles worked for 25 years  restoring  archival  films
and  early feature classics for Killiam Shows, Inc. and the Walter Reade
Organization in New York City, and this experience led to his work as an
independent  director  and  producer  of  documentary  films;  based  at
Thirteen/WNET  in  New York City, he wanted to document the rich history
of Harlem, and to highlight a plethora of hidden stories of  African-Am-
erican achievements; and
  WHEREAS,  William  Miles's  first major production was "Men of Bronze"
(1977), the little-known story of the African-American soldiers  of  the
369th  combat regiment from Harlem, who fought alongside the French army
in World War I; denied the right to fight in the  American  forces,  the
369th  regiment was granted the right to fight alongside the French, and
at the end of the war were awarded high military honors from the  French
government; and
  WHEREAS,  "I  Remember  Harlem"  (1981), was a four-part series on the
history of Harlem, from its beginnings in the 17th century to the  early
1980s;  with segments on the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression in
Harlem, the civil rights movement including Malcolm X's time in  Harlem,
and  the challenges and problems of the 1970s, "I Remember Harlem", is a
comprehensive look at the rich and unique  history  of  this  particular
borough; and
  WHEREAS,  Other major films by William Miles are: "The Different Drum-
mer:  Blacks in the Military" ( 1983), "Black Champions" (1986),  "Black
Stars in Orbit" (1990), "Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War
II"  (1992),  and  "The Black West"; he also co-produced "James Baldwin:
The Price of the Ticket" (1989) an episode  of  PBS's  American  Masters
series about the American writer; and
  WHEREAS, William Miles won an Emmy Award, was nominated for an Academy
Award, and was inducted into the Black Filmmaker's Hall of Fame; he also
received  the  Lifetime  Achievement Award from the Association of Inde-
pendent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) for his outstanding contributions to
the history of African-Americans in the medium of film; and

  WHEREAS, William Miles distinguished himself in his profession and  by
his  sincere  dedication  and substantial contribution to the welfare of
his community; and
  WHEREAS,  William  Miles's commitment to excellence, and his spirit of
humanity, carried over into all fields of enterprise, including charita-
ble and civic endeavors; and
  WHEREAS, William Miles is survived by his wife, Gloria; and
  WHEREAS, Armed with a humanistic spirit and imbued  with  a  sense  of
compassion,  William Miles leaves behind a legacy which will long endure
the passage of time and will remain as a comforting  memory  to  all  he
served and befriended; now, therefore, be it
  RESOLVED,  That  this  Legislative  Body pause in its deliberations to
mourn the death of Harlem, New York, native William Miles, noted  histo-
rian and legendary filmmaker; and be it further
  RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to the family of William Miles.


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