BIRMINGHAM, AL - The credibility of local Civil Rights group "Never Again" is under fire today by critics who called into question the soundtrack for its newly released documentary, which contains songs by Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"Free at Last: The Ongoing Struggle for Equality" is a documentary produced by Never Again focusing on the legacy of past Civil Rights heroes and the varying visions of today's activists. During the closing credits and a pivotal scene in the documentary depicting the legendary Selma to Montgomery march, Lynyrd Skynyrd's epic song "Free Bird" defiantly plays in the background. In another important scene that contains footage of the funeral procession for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the mournful song "Tuesday's Gone" can be heard.
Critics, including fellow Civil Rights group Separate Not Equal, claim that Never Again's failure to recognize Lynyrd Skynyrd's pro-Southern heritage image and lyrics undermines its credibility and challenges the sincerity of its message. "Although Never Again may have been well-intentioned, the use of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in a Civil Rights documentary is akin to using Marilyn Manson songs to promote Family Values," opined Frank Stills, President of Separate Not Equal. "It's irresponsible, and quite frankly it does more harm than good."
Ruben Taylor, the creative director for Never Again, released a statement today claiming that the use of the songs was an unfortunate oversight, and that he had no knowledge of Lynyrd Skynyrd's propensity to fly Confederate Flags or reference segregationist Governor George Wallace in song lyrics. "While listening to potential music for "Free at Last" I found it hard to avoid the compelling message of freedom within Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" or the undeniable sense of loss conveyed in "Tuesday's Gone," explained Taylor. "I felt these songs were perfect for the movie, however I clearly failed to do my homework, and for that I'm profoundly sorry," he lamented.
Never Again has agreed to halt sale of "Free at Last" until changes have been made to replace the songs. When reached by phone, current Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer Johnny Van Zant was surprised to hear the songs were on the soundtrack, responding, "Free at Last, huh? Well those bastards are now free to cut me that royalty check."