In today times, we are looking for a hero, or something to make us superior than what we are. Look no further but through the eyes of Director – Narrator Cylk Cozart, whose 40 years entertainment career from Knoxville, Tennessee to Hollywood, California has reached this multitude by directing, “Inherit The Land”. The documentary has already received the Best Historical/Educational Documentary in Hollywood Weekly Magazine Film Festival.
Ironically, this story occurred 100 years ago when sisters, Sallie and Maggie Ross, two wealthy white women, willed 800 acres of land in a court of law to a “Negro” family, Bob Ross and his daughter Mittie Bell in Marvin, North Carolina during the Jim Crow era.
Producer Jim Johnson and Author Gene Stowe, joined with Director & Narrator Cylk Cozart, the actors and staff to form this dynamic team to present to us so beautifully, “Inherit The Land”. Mr. Johnson passionately said, “the purpose of this story is to see how a family over 100 years ago lived in harmony without regards to their race on the same land and how the court system stood up and did what was right.”
In October 2021, the first premiere was in Monroe, North Carolina, 16 miles from Marvin, NC where all this history took place. Descendants of the Ross family and other Marvin’s descendants were interviewed and shared stories from down through the years of the Ross sisters, Bob and Mittie Bell Ross. Even the actors who portrayed Bob and Mittie Bell at different ages were descendants of them.
Mr. Johnson elaborated how Sally Patterson who portrayed Sallie owns and lives in the original house from the 1800’s, where the Ross family actual lived and where the re-enactment scenes were filmed. Also, Judy Simpson Cook, who portrayed Maggie discovered her grandfather was on this historic jury in April 1921.
Everyone was exhilarated by how authentic this film was portrayed. Mr. Cozart said, “the community was so thrilled when we filmed the documentary about them. Other filmmaker had shown interest in their community, but it never materialized. I felt proud to tell the world about Marvin’s phenomenal story”.
Director Cozart wanted his second VIP Premiere to be held in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee that he loves. It was like a Christmas present from him to his hometown. That is when I was able to view this amazing, brilliant historical piece on December 19, 2021 at Regal Downtown West Cinema Theatre with approximately 350 guest who walked away with excitement, amazement and tremendous respect for this historical documentary.
Afterwards, Director Cozart and Producer Johnson, opened up the floor for questions about the documentary and called on Author Stowe to help answer several questions. After all, it was him that published “Inherit the Land” in 2006 after extensive research on this story over 28 years ago and is still researching.
It was amazing to hear the current update of the town and what happen to the property after 100 years. The conversation began such an intriguing dialogue with these three proud men and their audience.
A strong genuine question came from a 13-year-old student who asked her father, and the father relayed the question to the “Inherit The Land” team. She asked, “Why is this not being taught in our schools”. Mr. Cozart responded, that was a very intelligent question, and he would love to speak to the young students in the schools and colleges about this American History.
Caroline Tate, in attendance walked away being so impressed saying, “The idea was brilliant and remarkable for Cylk Cozart to go back into our ancestor’s history and bring it to the movie scene. The story line was magnificent, and the documentary music set the tone. It allowed us to see the true essence of what America could be if we come together and allow our future generation to witness kind, caring, selfless, and humanity that Sallie and Maggie Ross portrayed. The world needs to know, it does not have to be such injustice within our country”.
Ms. Lorayn DeLuca, who is also Co-Producer of the film played a significant role as Eugenia and really brought the scene to life. She said, “I was excited to play a sassy racist because it was a challenge to play someone different from myself. It was a dream to experience the generosity of working with Director Cylk Cozart”.
After the premiere, we gathered at Fanbase inside Fanatic Brewing Company to continue the dialogue about this astonishing documentary.
While there, we were introduced to the founder’s Rick Clark and Cylk Cozart’s Country Roads Beer.
We were celebrating in the area, adjacent to the distillery where the beer had been developed. I was fascinated by all this so Mr. Marty Velas, the Brewmaster gave me and two others a tour of his distillery and explained the amazing process of brewing the beer.
A week later on December 30 in Nashville, Tennessee, this same Country Roads Beer was introduced, displayed and advertised worldwide on ESPN at the TransPerfect Music City Bowl College game. Ironically, Cylk’s hometown team, the University of Tennessee played an extremely exciting game against Purdue for the Championship but lost in overtime 45 – 48. Country Roads Beer was the official craft beer sponsors and it was so well received.
An ESPN representative stated this Bowl game drew 5.594 million viewers on ESPN, the Bowl eclipsed 100,000,000 all-time viewers and set a 24-year history fan record attendance of 69,489 in Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Tennessee Titans. What astounding numbers of people who was introduced that day to Country Road Beer.
All this celebration during the Christmas Holiday, we couldn’t forget about Mr. Cylk Cozart’s other invention of the smooth taste of Cylk’s Whiskey produced in the Old Tennessee Distilling Co, Knoxville/Gatlinburg, TN. Next time you tour through the Smoky Mountains area, just stop on by.
The year of 2021 saw Cozart’s team being dedicated in directing, acting, filming, and editing to get the film completed, ready for premieres and soon to be released in movie theaters and or households nationwide.
In the midst of all of this filming, the director found time to become Dr. Calvin Cylk Cozart. He received his Global International Alliance University (GIA) Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanitarianism on “9-11” in Ft Lauderdale, Florida under the leadership of Ambassador Dr. Lenora Peters and Dr. Dee Thompson which was an extraordinary honor.
He received the prestigious Joe Biden Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award and was awarded the keys to Broward County from former Mayor and now Commissioner Dale V.C. Holiness. Ironically, this was the same city Cylk starred in his first movie, “Blue Skies Again” almost 40 years ago in 1983.
Director Cylk Cozart is so proud of the historical documentary, “Inherit the Land”. He said, “this was needed in order to connect original historical facts with the current racial tensions which continue to be a challenge in this world”.
He will be traveling the country for interviews and other premieres. He wants to demonstrate that change can be made if you have an open mind and then we can move forward in this country.
Director Cylk Cozart and Producer Jim Johnson, “Inherit the Land” will be released in 2022.
Overall, Mr. Johnson said, “I care what this story will do for today. And how we should live. The only way to help solve race problems is to love the human race and have adults raising their children to love unconditional. Even Cylk said, people of power and wealth have to step up.”
Ms. DeLuca passionately said, “It’s about love or fear. The miracle is the hope that through intentionally changing our perceptions, minds, and actions we can change the world.”
Gene Stowe feeling strong about “Inherit The Land” story and states, “It’s a rare love. It’s wonderful that it’s love. It’s too bad it’s rare”.
Go witness this inspiring documentary by learning to come together regardless of your race. Each one of us should take a real good look at ourselves and make the decision to help change racial justice in our country and learn from Ms. Sallie, Ms. Maggie, and the jury to do the right thing, despite the color of one’s skin and to live in harmony like the Rosses and like Marvin, North Carolina is living today.