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African-American Documentary Films on DVD in the Leavey Library: New Additions to the Collection

New Additions to the Collection

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
"This film tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman's journey from her birth in a paper-thin shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th Century. Alice Walker made history as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her groundbreaking novel, The Color Purple, which has been transformed from a novel, to a Hollywood movie and latterly to a successful Broadway musical. This universal story of triumph against all odds is not that different from Walker's own story. Born in 1944, eighth child of sharecroppers, her early life unfolded in the midst of violent racism and poverty during some of the most turbulent years of profound social and political changes in North American history. Alice Walker's inspiring journey is also a story of a country and a people at the fault line of historical changes..."

All the Difference
"Filmed over five and a half years, All the Difference weaves together the stories of two tough, yet promising young black men as they navigate their lives in broken homes and low-income, high-risk communities in Chicago. Statistics predict they will drop out of high school and succumb to life on the streets; but both graduate and go on to college in spite of all the odds. After they graduate, the film follows them for another 6 months as they both find meaningful work in community service. The film explores the factors in their lives (education, parents and grandparents, teachers, role models, personal drive and community support) that made All the Difference in helping them be the first in their families to most likely escape poverty and secure a place in the middle class"

The Angola 3:  Black Panhters and the Last Slave Plantation
"Tells the gripping story of Robert King Wilkerson, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, men who endured solitary confinement longer then any known living prisoner in the United States. Explores their extraordinary struggle for justice while incarcerated."

Arc of Justice: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of a Beloved Community
"Traces the remarkable journey of New Communities, Inc. and the struggle for racial justice and economic empowerment among African Americans in southwest Georgia. NCI was created in 1969 in Albany, Georgia by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Congressman John Lewis, and Charles and Shirley Sherrod, to help secure economic independence for African American families. For 15 years, NCI cooperatively farmed nearly 6,000 acres, the largest tract of land in the United States owned by African Americans at the time, but racist opposition prevented them from implementing plans to build 500 affordable homes as part of their community land trust. Unable to secure government loans to cope with the impact of successive years of drought, NCI lost the land to foreclosure in 1985. But 25 years later it was given new life as a result of a successful and little-known class action lawsuit brought by hundreds of African American farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for loan discrimination. With the settlement, the original founders purchased a 1,600-acre plantation once owned by the largest slave owner and richest man in Georgia. NCI is now growing pecans and using the antebellum mansion on the property as a retreat and training center, still committed to its original mission of promoting racial justice and economic development."

Black Hollywood
"... this feature documentary explores the role of black actors, black directors and the black audience in American movies. Remember the early 80s -- hip hop had just been born, break dancing filled clubs and streets and Eddie Murphy and the late great Richard Pryor were the only two black stars making it. In an action-packed showcase of clips and interviews, Diahnne Abbott, Rosalind Cash and Alfre Woodard talk about negative stereotyping. Jim Brown, Vonetta McGee and D'Urville Martin come up with alternative solutions to the one-way street that was 'blaxploitation' and discuss new ways of advancing an independent black cinema. There is a rare interview with Lorenzo Tucker, the Black Valentino, about his career with Oscar Micheaux. Joel Fluellen and Vincent Tubbs tell memorable stories of what life was like for the few blacks working in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s (including Dorothy Dandridge). There is a marvelous speech by Sidney Poitier on accepting the Black Hall of Fame 'oscar'. Griffiths' Birth of a Nation is panned. Grandmaster Flash and his 'Message' is the theme tune and the writer Oscar Williams holds the whole show together with his advice to the creative outsider." - Container

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
"The first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails."

Brothers of the Black List 
"September 4, 1992: An elderly woman in a small town in upstate New York reports an attempted rape by a young black man who cut his hand during the altercation. While looking for suspects, police contact officials at SUNY Oneonta, a nearby college, and a school administrator reacts by handing over a list of names and residences of 125 black male students. For the next several days, those students are tracked down and interrogated by various police departments under a presumption of guilty until proven innocent. In Brothers of the Black List, director Sean Gallagher tracks this story of racism that became the longest litigated civil rights case in American history. The now grown students and their school counselor, Edward 'Bo' Whaley, recount the disturbing events that the college and police department tried sweeping under the rug for many years thereafter. An emotional story of social justice, this unsettling documentary is also a cautionary tale of equal rights gone wrong that is relevant today more than ever."

Circle Unbroken: A Gullah Journey from Africa to America
"75% of all enslaved Africans coming to America came in through the ports of Charleston, Beaufort and Georgetown, South Carolina. The result of this mingling of enslaved Africans from West Africa with the plantation culture awaiting them in America became Gullah; the genesis and taproot of African American culture. Most popularly portrayed through music, language, food, art, religion and storytelling. Gullah is a part of American history they didn't teach you in school! This film is a dazzling and moving visual celebration of Gullah people in words and music, by one of America's preeminent cultural ambassadors: Anita Singleton-Prather and the Gullah kinfolk."

Frederick Douglass and the White Negro
"This film tells the story of Frederick Douglass and 'his escape from slavery, leading to refuge in Ireland at the peak of the Great Famine. The film focuses on the powerful influence Ireland had on him as a young man. It also explores the turbulent relationship between African Americans and Irish Americans in general.'"

Harlem Black Hope
"International filmmaker Philippe Couture imbeds himself in a Harlem neighborhood. Taking a room in an inexpensive transient hotel, he walks the neighborhood making friends with street people, the folks in the local barber shop, and the local bodega. He meets and befriends a cross section of Harlem in his favorite new bar and at the local Baptist church. Why? He wants to capture the feelings of the people as they anticipate the election of Barak Obama."

In His Own Home
"...is a documentary about the March 2010 shooting of an unarmed disabled black graduate student by campus police at the University of Florida and the failure of the administration to address the racism and overmilitarization of its police force. It tells the story of Kofi Adu Brempong, a Ghanaian graduate student, disabled by childhood polio, attacked by a campus Critical Incident Response Team bungled response to a 911 call from a neighbor. It is about students whose protests led the administration to drop fake charges against Kofi and whose continued activism challenges police brutality. In His Own Home speaks to police racism and the militiarization of our campuses nationwide and to the continuing police brutality against unarmed Black people like Michael Brown and Eric Garner."

John Lewis: Get In the Way
"Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, a civil rights hero, congressional leader, and human rights champion whose unwavering fight for justice spans the past 50 years. The son of sharecroppers, Lewis grew up in the segregated South and rose from Alabama's Black Belt to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill. His humble origins have forever linked him to those whose voices often go unheard."

Juke: Passages from the Films of Spencer Williams
"In the 1940s Spencer Williams, the African-American filmmaker and actor, produced melodramas about saints and sinners. Here film critic Thom Anderson assembles excerpts from Williams' films to document scenes of black life in the 1940s. Presented without narration."

Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind
"Uses a wealth of archival film, photographs and documents to uncover the story of this Jamaican immigrant who between 1916 and 1921 built the largest black mass movement in world history. Also features interviews with people who witnessed the Garvey movement first hand."

Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise
"Examines the life and legacy of African American poet, memoirist, and civil rights worker Maya Angelou, from her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana to the recitation of her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton. Includes Angelou's own words woven together with archival photographs and videos as well as interviews with Angelou's friends and family."

The Nine Lives of Marion Barry
"Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering, drug-addled mayor of the nation's capital. He's the poster boy for corruption, a pariah. Yet to others, Marion Barry is a folk hero who has dominated Washington, D.C. city politics for over 40 years. Today, Barry is once again in the political limelight. Who is Marion Barry, really? A hero? A scoundrel?"

Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen
"...is a window into the life of Angela Bowen who grew up in inner city Boston during the Jim Crow era, went on to become a classical ballerina, legendary dance teacher, a black lesbian feminist activist, writer and professor."

The Revival: Women & the Word
"...chronicles the US tour of a group of Black lesbian poets and musicians, who become present-day stewards of a historical movement to build community among queer women of color. Their journey to strengthen their community is enriched by insightful interviews with leading Black feminist thinkers and historians, including Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Nikki Finney, and Alexis Deveaux. As the group tours the country, the film reveals their aspirations and triumphs, as well as the unique identity challenges they face encompassing gender, race, and sexuality. This is a rarely seen look into a special sisterhood - one where marginalized voices are both heard and respected."

The Singing Stream Series: The Life and Legacy of  Mrs. Bertha Landis from Creedmoor, North Carolina
"The life and leg̀acy of Mrs. Bertha Landis from Creedmoor, North Carolina and 100 years of an American family told through song, stories, and scenes of daily life."

The Souls of Black Girls
"...is a provocative news documentary that takes a critical look at media images--how they are instituted, established and controlled. The documentary also examines the relationship between the historical and existing media images of women of color and raises the question of whether they may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty that are celebrated in media images."

Sweet Georgia Brown: Impact, Scarifice, and Will
"This documentary examines the racial and gender policies that defined the status of African-American women in the military during World War II. Interviews and primary sources reveal the unique experience of being an African-American woman in the military during this period. The story of these inspiring women, from the struggles they faced to the triumphs they accomplished, is one rarely discussed in American history, but one which should not be overlooked."

The Wanda Coleman Project
"Multi award-winning filmmaker Bob Bryan features 'One of the Major Writers of her Generation.' Mr. Bryan interviews brilliant Poet / Writer / Journalist Wanda Coleman, author of over 20 books (The Riot Inside Me, Mecurochrome, Heavy Daughter Blues, Mad Dog Black Lady, etal.) It is a 'must-see' interview if you've ever loved the writings of Wanda Coleman or if you're interested in finding out what her beautiful life, poetic conceptual process and philosophy of creative writing was all about."

When Justice Isn't Just
"Directed by Oscar-nominated and NAACP Image Award winner David Massey, this dynamic documentary features legal experts, local activists, and law enforcement officers delving into ongoing charges of inequality, unfair practices, and politicized manipulations of America's judicial system. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement and citizens nationwide question the staggering number of police shootings of unarmed Black men and women."

You Belong to Me: Sex, Race and Murder in the South
"This is the story of an African-American woman who in 1952 killed a prominent white man after being subjected to years of sexual abuse. It combines documentary footage with live action reenactments and exclusive interviews with surviving family members."