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

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  • 21 / May / 2013
  • 23 / May / 2013
  • 23 / May / 2013

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative



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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