When Meadow George Lemon walked into the Ritz Theater in Wilmington, N.C., at age 11, he didn’t have much going for him. He was born a second-class citizen in the Jim Crow South. His folks had split up, leaving his aunt and uncle to raise him — a skinny boy with a funny name “not at the top of anyone’s priority list,” as he later wrote. And, for a kid who looked forward to splurging 25 cents on westerns and adventure flicks, there was no clear way out.
Then, in the early 1940s, Lemon saw the newsreel that changed his life.