The Pulse of Entertainment: Philip Hart
and Disney Pictures to Produce Film on First Trans-Continental Flight
A boy looking for more information on his Great-Uncle James Herman Banning, who
was a black pilot, ended in a life spent collecting and disseminating black history to the world. Philip Hart was that boy
and since then his journey has resulted in published books, a Smithsonian exhibit and films. Hart, along with Disney Pictures,
will produce "Jump at the Sun" a documentary about his Great-Uncle James H. Banning and his co-pilot Thomas Cox
Allen, and their history making trans-continental flight in 1932.
at the Sun' was developed at Disney," said Philip. "(Pulitzer Prize winner) Charles Fuller ("A Soldier's Story")
wrote it." Hart in explaining about his development deal at Disney said, "The second development at Disney is about
Bessie Coleman. Both are rooted in my research."
research, which started when he was a young man, revealed not only his family's history in aviation but America's history
in aviation. Since then he has published books, produced documentaries and even spear-headed an exhibit at the Smithsonian
on Black aviators. He has produced for PBS a documentary titled "Flying in Search of a Dream," about the life of
aviator Bessie Coleman. She was the first black female in the world to earn a pilots license. For his work Hart has garnered
an Emmy Award. This Disney project is about the first pilots to fly trans-continental, which happens to be his Great-Uncle
James Banning - the first black man to receive a pilot license.
known sense I was growing up. I had a photo of him in own family album," Philip explained. "I tried to find out
about him. I started (research) in high school."
history facts to current-day American culture has not only resulted in an Emmy, but Peabody and Caucus Awards. As a couple
the Harts have produced these film projects and have even hosted a radio show for 10 years called, "Hart Moments."
Alone, Phil's credits include working as Director of the William Monroe Trotter Institution for the Study of Black Culture
and as a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston College for 20 years. Tanya's credits, aside from her "Hollywood
Live with Tanya Hart" radio show that airs Monday through Friday on 300 stations of the American Urban Radio Network
(AURN), is co-chair of The Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors. The Caucus is a non-profit organization that helps
fund projects of its members. Phil has published over 10 books plus articles such as the recent one published in the "Code
M" magazine entitled "The Flying Hoboes to Blank Panther." The Flying Hoboes is what James Banning and Thomas
Allen called themselves. Tanya also launched the west coast division of the BET Network with her "Live from Los Angeles
with Tanya Hart" BET show.
"I've collaborated with the
Smithsonian." Philip said about the many vehicles he has used to let the world know about African-American aero history.
"They opened up a black exhibit... we donated to. It's about (aviation) pioneers. It's very popular."
"Jump at the Sun" will follow the lives of James Banning and Thomas Allen
as they battle racism, the elements and each other in their second-hand plane during the Great Depression while flying from
Los Angeles to New York in 1932. Banning died shortly after that historic flight at the age of 33 in 1933 as a passenger on
a biplane that stalled during an aero show in San Diego. It is noted that Banning was not allowed to fly at the last minute
because of his race so he went along as a passenger. Allen however, died of old age at 82 in a hospital in Oklahoma City.
"The main challenge is raising the money. The advance for books, I use it for the
films," Philip said when asked about challenges he has faced. On any negative feed-back in putting a light on how important
black history is to American history he said, "No push-backs. I've been involved in this 40 -50 years. I've done books,
children books, exhibits and documentaries."
how when raising funds for the PBS documentary that they wrote, produced and directed people were skeptical that these pilots
actually existed and doubted whether people would be interested. Going by the popularity of the Smithsonian Black Aviation
Exhibit in Washington, DC people are most certainly interested - I know I am.
"Most people know about the Tuskegee
airmen but few know about those that came before them," he said.
Through his exhibits, books and films such as "Jump
at the Sun" with Disney Pictures the Harts will educate us on who those people are.
He names 10 of them in a 2013 Oxford University Press essay titled "Early African-American Aviators."
Bessie Coleman is one. He wrote at least three books on her. In 1995 she received her own U.S. Stamp.
Bessie Coleman obtained her pilot license in 1921 several years before Amelia Earhart.
It was in international pilot license. Everyone in America heard about Amelia Earhart and
that her plane crashed, but thanks to Philip Hart we now know that not only was Bessie Coleman
the first black female licensed pilot in the world but like Earhart she too died in a plane crash (1926) - she was
testing her new plane.
died in a crash," Phil told me when I asked if she started the first black aero club
(school) in the world located in Los Angeles that bared her name. "William Powell
opened it up, the Bessie Coleman Aero School. I recently went where it was, the aero club. The (aero) school was at
Jefferson High School."
Harts' Great-Uncle James H. Banning was the chief pilot for the Bessie Coleman Aero Club
(school) founded in 1929. The "Jump at the Sun" Disney Pictures documentary is
also co-produced by their daughter Ayanna Hart who is COO and senior producer at their film production company
Fancy Films and Marc Wax, who is a veteran artist manager and talent agent who has represented the
Harts for many years.
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice
Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse
of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management
Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: 19th annual "Uplifting Minds II" Free Entertainment Conference (Baltimore on Sat April
21st 1 - 4p, at Security Square Mall and Los Angeles on Sat October 20th 1 - 4pm at the
Celebrity Centre in Hollywood). Entertainment Business panel and national talent showcase
competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) with over $15,000 in prizes. www.UpliftingMinds2.com.