Asking Morgan Freeman
The award-winning actor, Morgan Freeman, lends his voice to disaster preparedness.
Photo by Andy Goth
Morgan Freeman doesn’t just play a wise and thoughtful man. Off screen, the Academy Award-winning actor also uses his very famous baritone to speak up for causes like racial justice, environmental health, and disaster preparedness. “A hurricane strikes, does enormous amounts of damage... what if we were better prepared ahead of time?” Freeman asks. That kind of prevention is at the heart of his latest role in Plan!t Now, an effort to promote preparedness and awareness of natural disasters. Here are Freeman’s answers to questions you posed:
“Can you update us on race relations in the Mississippi town where you offered to pay for an integrated prom?”
The situation has improved somewhat, but not enough. I had to make my offer twice, and it took 11 years for it to be accepted. Even then—in 2008—a group of students held a Whites-only prom in protest. Pretty sad. There’s a documentary by Paul Saltzman about the entire event called Prom Night in Mississippi that shows how dim and unfounded the fears about holding an integrated prom were. I hope the strides made will continue.
“Do you have a personal connection to these [environmental] causes—an incident that made it personal for you?”
Yes, there was a personal connection. In 2004, Hurri-cane Ivan absolutely devastated the island nation of Grenada. A personal friend who lives there called me asking for help. I went to my publicist at the time and asked what we could do. We created a cookbook with recipes from other stars, like Kenny Chesney. We used that to raise money to help the people of Grenada. That’s how it began, and today, the organization that was born out of that, PLAN!T NOW, helps people in the United States and the Caribbean prepare for natural and man-made disasters.
“What is an effective media approach to counter rants, such as ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’”?
The best way is to show people the human and environmental tolls of the policies those slogans promote. CNN’s coverage of the Gulf oil spill did just that, and there are many other media groups doing this, too. News media report real news when concerns about corporate advertisers do not block their duty to “speak truth to power.”
From NEA Today
Teach elementary, middle, and high school students about severe weather sci-ence and safety at youngmeteorologist.com. A free computer game, developed in partnership among NEA, NOAA/National Weather Service, and the American Meteorological Society, answers intriguing questions, like “How many times can lightening strike a person or thing?”