Question of Color: Color Consciousness in Black America
Directed by Kathe Sandler
This video explores the devastating effect of a caste system based on how closely skin color, hair texture and facial features conform to a European ideal. It provides a unique window for anyone who has experienced prejudice.
Walk in the Night
Director: Mickey Madoda Dube 1998, 78 minutes
In English and Afrikaans with English subtitles
This is one of the first films from a new generation of talented young black South African filmmakers who have become active since the overthrow of apartheid in 1994. Dubes debut feature adapts Alex La Gumas celebrated 1962 novella of the same name into a fast-paced crime thriller in present day Johannesburg. This film recounts a single terrible night during which the fragile world of Mikey Adonis, a young steelworker, disintegrates. Things turn for the worst when Mikey unintentionally murders a broken down Irish actor and Mikeys girlfriends brother is falsely accused of the crime. The tragic cycle is only brought to a close by an unexpected intervention suggesting how things in the new South Africa might be different.
in America: Americas Journey Through Slavery
Part I: The Terrible Transformation 90 minutes
This episode, narrated by Angela Bassett, examines the origins of one of the largest forced human migrations in record history. After the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia in 1619, the British colonies lay the groundwork for a system of racial slavery, which generates profits that ensure the colonies growth and survival.
in America: Americas Journey Through Slavery
Part II: Revolution 90 minutes
While the American colonies challenge Britain for independence, American slavery is challenged from within as men and women fight to define what America will be. When the War of Independence is won, black people seize on the language of freedom even while the new nations Constitution codifies slavery and oppression as a national way of life. Angela Bassett narrates this episode.
in America: Americas Journey Through Slavery
Part III: Brotherly Love 90 minutes
In Philadelphia, during the first 50 years of the new nation, freedmen and fugitive slaves push the country to live up to the promises made in its Constitution. But with the invention of cotton gin, slavery expands into Americas western frontier, and a revolution in Haiti inspires slave rebellions throughout the southern United States. Angela Bassett narrates this episode.
in America: Americas Journey Through Slavery
Part IV: Judgment Day 90 minutes
As the nation expands westward, slavery becomes the most divisive issue in American life. Abolitionists struggle to bring the institution down and the nation is tested as never before. When tensions over slavery erupts into violence, Americans are forced to consider how long the country can continue as a democracy built on the profits of bondage. Angela Bassett narrates this episode.
Je Te Plumerai: Africa, I Will Fleece You
Directed by Jean-Maria Teno 88 minutes 1992
French with English Subtitles
This video provides an overview of one hundred years of cultural imperialism in Africa. Director Jean Marie Teno uses Cameroon, the only African country colonized by three European powers, for a case study of the devastation of traditional African societies by imposed colonial cultures.
Produced by John Arthos 27 minutes
This film gives voices to African-American students around the country as they discuss issues of race, racism, and race relations. The discussions range from whether stylistic differences between whites and blacks are superficial or profound, to the causes and nature of anger and frustration in the black community. Students talk about black culture, spirituality and energy.
the River I Stand
Directed by David Appleby, Alison Graham, and Steven Ross. 56 minutes 1993
This video reconstructs the two eventful months in the spring of 1968, which led to the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the dramatic climax of the Civil Rights Movement.
Black Athena examines Cornell Professor Martin Bernal's iconoclastic study of the African origins of Greek civilization and the explosive academic debates it provoked. This film offers a balanced, scholarly introduction to the disputes on multi-culturalism, "political correctness" and Afrocentric curricula sweeping college campuses today.
In Black Athena, Prof. Bernal convincingly indicts 19th century scholars for constructing a racist "cult of Greece" as a purely Aryan origin for Western culture. He accuses these classicists of suppressing the numerous connections between African and Near Eastern cultures and early Greek myth and art. Black Athena can help students begin to distinguish between sound scholarship and cultural bias - whether inherited from the past or imposed by the present.
Directed by Marlon Riggs 86 minutes 1995
This video weaves together the testimony of those whose complexion, class, gender, speech or sexuality has made them feel "too black" or "not black at enough." Bill T. Jones, Essex Hemphill, Angela Davis and bell hooks recall their own struggles to discover a more inclusive definition of "blackness".
Panther/San Francisco State: On Strike
2 titles on one cassette
This is the film the Black Panthers used to promote their cause. Shot in Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento in 1969, this exemplar of Sixties activist filmmaking traces the development of the Black Panther organization. Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton describes the origins of the Panthers in an interview from jail, Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver explains the Panthers appeal to the black community, and Chairman Bobby Seale enumerates the Panther 10 Point Program as Panthers march and demonstrate.
The fault line between Blacks and Jews is one of the most visible symbols of America's racial divide. Now a new film, made collaboratively by Jewish and Black filmmakers, goes behind the headlines and the rhetoric to try to heal the misunderstanding and mistrust. Blacks and Jews were acclaimed at this year's Sundance Film Festival as initiating a frank yet constructive nationwide dialogue between these two traditional allies.
During the Civil Rights movement Blacks and Jews fought together for equal rights. With the waning of that movement, differences in economic status caused both groups to turn inward. Positions hardened around such divisive issues as affirmative action in the schools, Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitism, even Jewish influence in Hollywood.
Blacks and Jews cuts through the sensationalized media coverage and the stereotypes to reexamine key conflicts from the point of view of activists on both sides. The Crown Heights riots dramatized the distrust between Blacks and Jews. But we meet a black man who saved a Hassid's life and a Jewish youth leader who brings the youth of both communities together.
During the 1960s, "blockbusting" in Chicago pitted Jewish owners against black homebuyers. A rabbi recounts how he took on real estate speculators and racism in the Jewish community as a leader of an interethnic coalition. A former Black Muslim leader explains the attraction of the Nation of Islam to many African Americans and why he finally left the movement. When a group of black teens in Oakland laughed during Shindlers List, it launched a feeding frenzy among the press and a political circus for demagogues on both sides. Students and teachers tell what really happened and how they took steps to increase understanding of both the Holocaust and slavery.
Blacks and Jews offers no Panglossian assurances of easy racial harmony. But screenings of this film can cut through the anger and emotion on both sides demonstrating that dialogue and cooperation can only be based in a serious effort to understand and value the experience of others. Synagogues and churches, campus ministries and student advisors, community organizers and anti-racism activists, will all find Blacks & Jews an invaluable new tool for increasing mutual understanding and building coalitions for social justice, not just between Blacks and Jews, but between all ethnic groups.
Directed by Bertram Verhagg 93 minutes 1995
This video offers every American a chance to sit-in on a full-length workshop with America's most dynamic diversity trainer, Jane Elliot. In Blue Eyed, she discriminates among a group of 40 typical Midwestern adults based strictly on their eye color. It's a lesson viewers are ever likely to forget.
In Color Adjustment, Marlon Riggs - Emmy winning producer of Ethnic Notions - carries his landmark studies of prejudice into the Television Age.
Color Adjustment traces 40 years of race relations through the lens of prime time entertainment, scrutinizing television's racial myths and stereotypes. Narrated by Ruby Dee, the 88 minute documentary allows viewers to revisit some of television's most popular stars and shows, among them Amos and Andy, The Nat King Cole Show, I Spy, Julia, Good Times, Roots, Frank's Place and The Cosby Show. But this time around, Riggs asks us to look at these familiar favorites in a new way. The result is a stunning examination of the interplay between America's racial consciousness and network primetime programming.
The story, told with wit, passion, and verve, shows how African Americans were allowed into America's primetime family only insofar as their presence didn't challenge the mythology of the American Dream central to television's merchandising function. It demonstrates how the networks managed to absorb divisive racial conflict into the familiar non-threatening formats of prime-time television.
As engaging as it is perceptive, Color Adjustment sheds light on the racial implications of America's favorite addiction - television watching. It will help viewers reexamine America's and their own attitudes towards race.
Divine Carcasse is an unusual hybrid, a half fictional, half ethnographic film. It is a study in cultural contrast, between a European view of reality and an African one.
In the opening shot, a mysterious cargo ship approaches the Benin coast much, one imagines, as did the brigantines of the first European explorers. In its hold, however, is a 1955 Peugeot imported to Cotonou by Simon, an expatriate European philosophy teacher. His friends deride the car as an unreliable means of transport but relish its nostalgia value but their view of the past extends no further than their own youth in the 50's. Of course, a car can be a fetish object in European culture; a friend suggests Simon can use it to pick up women. But it remains primarily a disposable commodity to these complacent members of the consumer society who drive along singing, "My life is on credit and in stereo."
The film's focus rapidly shifts from the European expatriate community to urban, modernizing Africa, a transitional space between these two worldviews. Simon in frustration gives the decrepit car to Joseph, his cook, who hopes to ride it to financial success and independence. When he shows it off in his natal village, the crowd is shocked that the French call such cars "ancestors" since they look at their own ancestors as "guides and protectors." Joseph's wife, fearing the villagers' envy, asks for the ancestors' intervention on the grounds that the car will lift the fortunes of the entire family line. But Joseph's taxi business is a failure and during a "ghost dance" or egungun ritual the ancestors tell him that his recently deceased maternal uncle has cursed him and must be placated. The ancestors still don't seem much help; Joseph is forced to sell the car to a garage which discards it as scrap.
At this point the film's fictional narrative disappears entirely to be replaced by a nearly documentary study of an actual Beninois metalworker making a fetish commissioned by the village of Ouassou. We watch as he uses pre-industrial techniques to turn the car door into long strips of metal, presumably in imitation of the straw garments worn by the other fetishes. This fetish, the ram god, Agbo, master of the night, symbolized by the horns of the crescent moon, is brought back by four village elders by boat - the same way the car arrived at the film's beginning. The film ends when the statue is accepted or recognized by the joyful villagers and joins the other fetishes in the zangbeto society supposedly a kind of night watch for the village. Dark falls but the fetish's eyes blaze - perhaps amazed at its metamorphosis from a car into a god who sees in the dark.
Divine Carcasse can also be seen as an allegory of Europe's encounter with Africa. Colonialism brought to Africa a version of their own technological civilization, albeit a run-down, and second hand one, which post-independent African states have attempted to make work only to have it fall apart entirely. In the end Africa must rely on its own resources and traditions so that as the film moves forward it also moves backward into a pre-colonial past culture. Perhaps such a simple "return to the ancestors" is impractical in a relentlessly modernizing, globally inter-connected world. But Africa like much of the world is struggling to develop its own version of modernism in which objects can be produced not for profit or for supernatural beings but simply for human use.
Divine Carcasse, in its awareness of the ambiguous relationship between fiction and documentary, builds on the work of pioneering ethnographer Jean Rouch. It deliberately does not ask us to choose between African and Western perspectives but to recognize both as equally valid and equally fictional.
Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask
Director: Isaac Julien 50 minutes, 1992
This film explores one of the most influential theorists of the anti-colonial movements of our century. Fanons two works Black Skin, White Mask and The Wretched of the Earth were pioneering studies of the psychological impact of racism on both colonized and colonizer.
This film follows Fanon from his birth in 1925 on the French island of Martinique, through his medical training in France and subsequent disillusionment, which resulted in Black Skin, White Mask. Fanon died of leukemia in 1961 as nations across Africa were winning the independence for which he fought.
Producer/Director: George King 71 minutes, 1994
This film chronicles the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North and West. It tells this history through the personal stories of a group of older Chicagoans born in the Mississippi Delta. A newspaper editor, steelworker, blues musician and others recall their journey north on HWY. 61 from the poverty of sharecropping to better-paying factory jobs in Chicago. Goin to Chicago is a moving tribute to a generation of African Americans who struggled over odds as great or greater than faced by another immigrant group.
Homecoming is the first film to explore the rural roots of African American life. It chronicles the generation-old struggle of African Americans for land of their own which pitted them against both the Southern white power structure and the federal agencies responsible for helping them. Director Charlene Gilbert weaves this history together with a fond portrait of her own Georgia farming family into what she calls, "A story of land and love."
Like so much African American history, the Black farmers' story is one of perseverance in the face of prejudice and perjured promises. As part of radical Reconstruction, Congress allotted 45 million acres of land to former slaves but his rapid reimposition of white supremacy meant that little land was ever actually distributed. Despite formidable obstacles, one million African Americans, mostly former sharecroppers, managed to purchase over 15,000,000 acres of land by 1910.
This achievement was threatened by the agricultural crisis of the '20s and '30s which led to a raft of farm foreclosures and, eventually, to the system of federal farm loans and subsidies on which all farmers depend today. But the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture was a white man's club, often working hand in glove with local bankers and big landowners to dispossess Black farmers of their land. For example, during the '30s the Southern Tenant Farmers Union had to force the Farm Security Administration to include African American farmers in their tenant purchase program. It was through this program that the filmmaker's grandfather purchased his land, the farm her cousin now owns. Black farmers are currently suing the U.S.D.A. successfully for discriminatory loan practices over the last three decades. As a result of these policies, there are only 18,000 Black farmers left in America and it is predicted there will be none in the next century.
Homecoming is also mediation on the unfinished work of redeeming the land African Americans worked as slaves for hundreds of years August Wilson asserts that African Americans are a rural people who after the Great Migration found themselves in an alien urban milieu. This film argues that Black farms, though small in number today, can continue to provide African Americans with a sense of cultural stability and family unity in the 1990s. In a country which has never tried to make African Americans feel at home, this film, like the farming families it celebrates, offers a real "homecoming."
Make Me a World
Bright Like a Sun 1935-1954 60 minutes
Bright Like A Sun continues the series story through the years of the Great Depression and World War II. The challenging experiences more African-American artists to adapt and expand their creative visions, producing work with new energy and autonomy. Paul Robeson, the legendary singer and stare of stage and screen, uses his artistry and fame to fight for social justice in the US and abroad. Many others in this film include Augusta Savage, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and other young musicians.
Make Me a World
Lift Every Voice 1900-1924 60 minutes
Lift Every Voice looks at the trials and triumphs of the first generation of African Americans born into freedom. Bert Williams and George Walker, who forged careers as vaudeville stars, struggle to transcend the stereotype of the minstrel tradition as they reclaim genuine elements of black culture and win a mainstream audience.
Make Me a World
Not a Rhyme Time 60 minutes
Not a Rhyme Time begins in the 1960s, a time of integration and creative crossover when black artists make inroads in Hollywood, on Broadway and in popular music, most notably via the Motown sound. As Motown dominates the radio airwaves, a cultural revolution begins, with artists challenging the aesthetics, power and ultimately the very existence of a so-called mainstream. Some of the notable names on this film are Romare Bearden, Gwendolyn Brooks and Alice Walker.
Make Me a World
The Dream Keepers 1940-1965 60 minutes
The Dream Keepers looks at African-American artists in the turbulent years after World War II, as growing demand for equal rights are met with intense resistance. Lorraine Hansberrys remarkable Broadway debut, A Raisin in the Sun - extremely popular with both black and white audiences - is one sign of the eras pro-integration impulse. James Baldwin chooses exile in Paris as he struggles to launch hit literary career, but events in the United States eventually compel his return to lend his presence and voice to the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.
Make Me a World
Without Fear or Shame 1920-1937 60 minutes
Without Fear or Shame takes viewers from the First World War through the Jazz Age and into the years of the Great Depression. These are years of massive migration from South to North, unprecedented white fascination with Negro entertainment and arts, and the day of a New Negro in politics and culture, infused by the energies of such leaders as W.E.B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey. This program highlights Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and the women blues singers.
Baldwin: The Price of a Ticket
James Baldwin (1924-1987) was at once a major twentieth century American author, a Civil Rights activist and, for two crucial decades, a prophetic voice calling Americans, black and white, to confront their shared racial tragedy. James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket captures on film the passionate intellect and courageous writing of a man who was born black, impoverished, gay and gifted.
James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket uses striking archival footage to evoke the atmosphere of Baldwin's formative years - the Harlem of the 30s, his father's fundamentalist church and the émigré demimonde of postwar Paris. Newsreel clips from the '60's record Baldwin's running commentary on the drama of the Civil Rights movement. The film also explores his quiet retreats in Paris, the South of Franc, Istanbul and Switzerland - places where Baldwin was able to write away from the racial tensions of America.
Writers Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, William Styron and biographer David Leeming place Baldwins work in the African-American literary tradition - from slave narratives and black preaching to their own contemporary work. The film skillfully links excerpts from Baldwin's major books - Go Tell it on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and Blues for Mister Charlie, If Beale Street Could Talk - to different stages in black-white dialogue and conflict.
Towards the end of his life, as America turned its back on the challenge of racial justice, Baldwin became frustrated but rarely bitter. He kept writing and reaching in the strengthened belief that: "All men are brothers - That's the bottom line."
Petite Vendeuse De Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun)
Directed by Djibril Diop Mambety 45 minutes 1999
Wolof with English subtitles.
In this film, Mambety moves beyond merely documenting Africa's centuries of victimization towards envisioning the continent's recovery. He uses the simple tale of a crippled, yet resilient, little girl fighting for her economic independence against an unjust marketplace as a metaphor for Africas struggle to survive in an increasingly globalize economy.
Death of a Prophet
Directed by Raoul Peck 70 minutes 1992
French with English Subtitles
Like Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba (1925-61) is remembered less for his lasting achievements than as a shining symbol of the struggle for self-determination. This film is director Raoul Peck's moving meditation on the tragic events of Lumumba's twelve-month rise and fall as Zaire's first and only popularly elected Prime Minister.
Miles of Smiles chronicles the organizing of the first black trade union - the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This inspiring story of the Pullman porters provides one of the few accounts of African American working life between the Civil War and World War II.
Miles of Smiles describes the harsh discrimination which lay behind the porters' smiling service. Narrator Rosina Tucker, a 100 year old union organizer and porter's widow, describes how after a 12 year struggle led by A Philip Randolph, the porters won the first contract ever negotiated with black workers. Miles of Smiles recovers an important chapter in the emergence of black America and reveals a key source of the Civil Rights movement
Nega (Those Whom Death Refused)
Produced/ Directed by Flora Gomes 1988 93 minutes
Portuguese Creole with English sub-titles.
This film covers the period from July 1972to the final victory later that year and the consolidation of an independent Guinea-Bissau in 1974 and 1975. It dramatizes this history through the figure of Diminga, a guerilla fighter, and her loyalty to Sako, her husband. Its portrayal of the confusion and commitment of revolutionary warfare is one of the most accurate yet eloquent on film.
Freedom After While
Directed by Steven J Ross and Narrated by Julian Band 56 minutes 1999
This video tells the story of more than 1,000 sharecroppers-mostly African American but whites too-who were camped out in protest alongside two state highways with their families and a few belongings in the winter of 1939.
Faces of AIDS
Hosted by ABC News Medical Correspondent George Strait. 60 minutes
Other Faces of AIDS takes a hard look at the rapid growth of AIDS in minority communities. This program investigates AIDS in eight US cities, such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Miami. It features interviews with C. Everett Koop, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and others that are deeply involved in the educational and health efforts to combat the illness.
Producer/Director: Mweze Ngangura 1998, 93 minutes
In French with English Subtitles
Mweze Ngangura brings us a modern fairy tale set in the vibrant African émigré demi-monde of todays Europe. A naïve kind, Mani Kongo, comes from Congo to Europe in search of his long-lost daughter whom he sent there to study medicine. As soon as he gets to Brussels, Europeans begin to victimize him until he is penniless, homeless and forced to pawn his royal regalia. His daughter has been forced to work as an exotic dancer in a nightclub. Chako, the man who saved Kongo and his daughter, return to establish a clinic in his kingdom and to live happily ever after. Pieces DIdentites is able to raise some of the most troubling issues of identity facing all Africans in the ever-widening Diaspora.
Against Prime Time
Race Against Prime Time is the only film to scrutinize how television news represents African Americans. This hard-hitting documentary takes us behind the scenes at the newsrooms of the three network affiliates during the Liberty City uprising in Miami which left 18 dead. It provides a classic case study of how the news gets made: what we see - and what we don't.
Race Against Prime Time documents how local television newsmen anoint black community spokespersons, characterize whites as victims and blacks as rioters and fail to place the disturbances within the context of and decades of civic neglect. This film reminds us that twenty-five years after the Kerner report decried media prejudice, news reporting remains very much a white view of black realities
Wright - Black Boy
Richard Wright - Black Boy is the first film on the life, work and legacy of Richard Wright. Born outside Natchez, Mississippi in 1908, Wright overcame a childhood of poverty and oppression to become one of America's most influential writers. His first major works, Native Son and Black Boy, were runaway best sellers which are still mainstays of high school and college literature and composition classes. According to critic Irving Howe, "The day Native Son appeared American culture was changed forever."
Wright played an important role in many of the important social movements of his time. The film follows his journey through the Chicago black cultural Renaissance of the '30s, the Communist Party during the Depression, the witch-hunts of the McCarthy era and the American expatriate community in Paris in the '50s. This biography urges us to take a fresh look at the often-neglected work of Wright's exile years including The Long Dream and his championing of Pan Africanism and the newly emerging nations of Africa and Asia.
By the time of his mysterious death in 1960 at age 52, Wright had left an indelible mark on African American letters, indeed, on the American imagination. This film biography demonstrates Wright's life-long belief that "words can be weapons against injustice." It will encourage students of American Literature, Black Studies and 20th Century American History to revisit Wright's work with fresh enthusiasm and deepened understanding.
Produced by Abderrahmane Sissako 1997 58 minutes
In Portuguese and French with English sub-titles
In Rostov-Luanda, Mauritanian director Sissako recounts his journey to war-torn Angola in search of an old friend named Baribanga, but rediscovers his hope for Africa. During his journey, he meets a young professional woman, an orphan, a taxi driver, a mixed race businessman, a tailor, a schoolteacher and a grandmother, who likes to dance. He discovers that his friend is in the former East Germany but will be coming home to Africa. Sissako has returned to a continent reconstructing itself after catastrophes out of resilience.
Directed by Manthia Diawara 1995 51 minutes
French and English with English subtitles
This is the first film to look at European anthropology from the perspective of its subjects. Malian filmmaker and New York University professor, Manthia Diawaras film examines the anthropological enterprise through the work of Jean Rouch, the most distinguished ethnographic filmmaker living today. It includes clips from Rouchs documentary Les miters fous, his classic Chronique D ete, and his masterpiece, Moi, un noir (Treichville).
Francisco State: On Strike
Ethnic studies courses are ubiquitous today, but it wasn't always the case. In many ways, multicultural education can be traced back to San Francisco in 1968-69. There, students at San Francisco State University went on strike, shutting down the campus for six months, in one of the most high profile student actions of the '60s. University president S.I. Hayakawa called in the police who busted heads and arrested hundreds in an attempt to restore control of the campus. But the strike finally ended when the school acceded to the students demands and created the first ethnic studies department at an American university. This film, shot by the students and their allies, is a classic primary source document of the Sixties.
Shattering the Silences: The Case for Minority Faculty offers everyone in higher education an unprecedented opportunity to see American campuses through the eyes of minority faculty.
Across America campus diversity is under attack; affirmative action programs are banned, ethnic studies departments defunded, multicultural scholarship impugned. Even so, faculty of color remains less than 92% of all full professors and minority student enrollment is dropping for the first time in 30 years.
Shattering the Silences cuts through the rhetoric of the current Culture Wars by telling the stories of eight pioneering scholars - African American, Latino, Native American and Asian American. As we watch them teach, mentor and conduct research, we realize in concrete terms how a diverse faculty enriches and expands traditional disciplines and contributes to a more inclusive campus environment.
These eight professors also discuss the excessive workload and special pressures minority faculty face everyday in majority white institutions. For example, minority teachers are disproportionately tapped to provide diversity on faculty committees and in scholarly organizations. They often find themselves de facto advisors for all the students of their ethnicity on campus. Their research and teaching is held to different standards from that of their white colleagues. Dr. Darlene Clark Hine looks back on the first wave of minority faculty as "a sacrificial generation."
Faculty Featured in Shattering the Silences:
Miguel Algarin, Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University
Gloria Cuádraz, Assistant Professor of American Studies, Arizona State University
Darlene Clark Hine, John A. Hannah Professor of History, Michigan State University
Robin D.G. Kelley, Professor of History, New York University
Nell Painter, Edwards Professor of History, Princeton University
Alex Saragoza, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley
David Wilkins, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arizona
Shawn Wong, Professor of English, University of Washington
in Steel: The Fight for Equal Opportunity
Directed by Tony Buba 58 minutes 1996
This film documents the history of discrimination against black workers and their struggle for equality on the job. It provides historical background to current angry debates on race and affirmative action.
Language You Cry In: The Story of a Mende Song
Directed by Alvaro Topeka and Angel Serrano 52 minutes 1998
English and Mende with English Subtitles.
This film tells an amazing scholarly detective story reaching across hundreds of years and thousands of miles from the 18th century Sierra Leone to the Gullah people of present-day Georgia. It recounts the saga of how African Americans retained links with their African past through the horrors of the middle passage, slavery and segregation. The film concludes with the homecoming of the Gullah family.
Strange Demise of Jim Crow
Directed by David Berman 56 minutes 1998.
This video reveals for the first time on film how many, perhaps most, southern cities desegregated in a quieter, almost stealthy fashion marked by behind-the-scenes-negotiations, secret deals and controversial news blackouts. This video recaptures an important side of the integration story we were never intended to see.
A Glass, Lightly: A Documentary on Found-Object Art and Artists
Director: Jacky Comforty 20 minutes
Through a Glass, Lightly follows Mr. Imagination, David Philpot, and Kevin Orth as they search the city for the raw materials of their art. This documentary shows how they transform their found objects into color, form, texture, craft and art.
Trouble Behind shows how present and past are tied in a fearful knot as it searches for the origins of today's racism in the past brutality and present-day denial of a seemingly typical American town - Corbin, Kentucky, home of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Like many industrial centers, Corbin attracted African American sharecroppers looking for better paying jobs during World War I. But when white veterans returned from the War, the found their close-knit community changed and economic competition heated up. One October night in 1919, an armed white mob rounded up 200 black railroad workers, locked them into box cars, beat many of them, and then literally railroaded them out of town. Interviews with eyewitnesses, scholars, newsreel clips and photos reconstruct events in Corbin and place that night in the national context of a resurgent Ku Klux Klan, the triumph of Jim Crow and 28 major race riots.
Trouble Behind evokes attitudes commonly found today in many all-white towns and suburbs and how racism is passed down from generation to generation. Most of all, it demonstrates that our refusal to confront the past cripples our ability to build an inclusive future.
W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices
Producer/Director: Louis Massiah 1995 116 minutes
This is the first film biography of a man who towered over African American history for nearly a century. W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963) career as a scholar-activist stretched form the end of Reconstruction to the imposition of Jim Crow. In this film, four prominent African American writers, Wesley Brown, Thulani Davis, Toni Cade Bambara and Amiri Baraka each narrate the period of his life and describe his impact on their work. They speak about DuBois role in the NAACP, the first Pan-African Congress and many other great accomplishments of his life.