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African-American Documentary Films on DVD in the Leavey Library: Biography


A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom
"For the better part of the century, Randolph was a major force spreading the civil rights and labor movements...An engrossing presentation of his life and times."  -- Washington Post

Another Brother
"Tells the story of Vietnam veteran Clarence Fitch. Clarence Fitch was a man of and for his times, an African American who witnessed and took part in events of this country from the turmoil of the sixties through the present decade. Telling a story fraught with both heroism and tragedy, the film uses Clarence's life as a jumping off point to explore a remarkable range of issues -- racism, the Black civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, the scourge of drugs, and finally the AIDS crisis."

Audre Lord: The Berlin Years 1984-1992
"Audre Lorde's incisive, often-angry, but always brilliant writings and speeches defined and inspired the US-American feminist, lesbian, African-American, and Women-of-Color movements of the 1970s and 1980s. Audre Lorde, the Berlin Years 1984 to 1992, documents an untold chapter of Lorde's life: her influence on the German political and cultural scene during a decade of profound social change. The film explores the importance of Lorde's legacy, as she encouraged Afro-Germans -- who, at that time, had no name or space for themselves -- to make themselves visible within a culture that until then had kept them isolated and silent. It chronicles Lorde's empowerment of Afro-German women to write and to publish, as she challenged white women to acknowledge the significance of their white privilege and to deal with difference in constructive ways. Previously unreleased archive material as well as present-day interviews explore the lasting influence of Lorde's ideas on Germany and the impact of her work and personality. For the first time, Dagmar Schultz's personal archival video- and audio-recordings reveal a significant part of the private Audre Lorde as well as her agenda -- to rouse Afro-Germans to recognize each other. 2012 marks the 20-year anniversary of Audre Lorde's passing."

Beah: A Black Woman Speaks
"Beah Richards (1920-2000), actress-poet-activist, shares her wit and wisdom about her life as a black woman in America."

Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race
"...tells the little known story of how Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor elected in a major U.S. city with an overwhelmingly white majority, changed Los Angeles through an extraordinary multiracial coalition, and in the process, transformed American politics."

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
"[Bayard Rustin] was one of the first 'freedom riders, ' an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Intelligent, gregarious and charismatic, Rustin was denied his place in the limelight for one reason -- he was gay. His homosexuality forced him to play a background role in landmark events in the Black struggle. This...documentary [deals] with the interplay of personal and political in the life of a complex, multi-talented essential figure in the history of American radicalism." -- Container.

Dorothy Dandridge: An American Beauty
"Dorothy Dandridge was both goddess and trailblazer. Here is the Dorothy you haven't been introduced to, a close-up look at her triumphant and tragic life."

Edge of Each Other's Battles, The: The Vision of Audre Lorde
"Documents black lesbian poet and activist Audre Lorde's (1934-92) social vision, using footage from the four-day conference: I am Your Sisters: Forging Global connections Across Differences, held in Boston in 1990. At the conference 1,200 men, women and young people from 23 countries examined the issues of the relations between race, class, gender and sexuality through Lorde's work. Interviews with the organizers of the conference are intercut with conference footage, including performances, controversies and speeches."

Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther
"While in Algiers to cover the 1969 Pan African Cultural festival, Klein met Eldridge Cleaver, charismatic leader of the Black Panthers and a fugitive from the United States. For this documentary, made at the request of Cleaver and the Algerian government, Klein filmed Cleaver nonstop for three days, capturing a fascinating sketch of the controversial figure as he reflects on racism in America, the attempts on his life, the Vietnam War, and the relationship between the American Black Power movement and African liberation groups."

Father's Kingdom
" the story of Father Divine, a charismatic and controversial character. His early life is veiled in obscurity. He built a church with over a million followers. He evolved his own unique theology -- the power of positive thinking. During the depths of the Great Depression, he fed thousands every day. He was an early voice for racial and gender equality. He operated over 70 businesses and hotels, creating thousands of jobs. He created dozens of racially integrated communities. He controlled vast wealth, but never accepted personal compensation. His detractors called him a fraud, but believers called him ... God. This is his story."

First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin
"John Hope Franklin is a legendary figure among American Historians. First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin is a personal exploration of his remarkable life and work - covering his contributions as a scholar and an activist. Franklin, who holds the Medal of Freedom and honorary doctorates from 139 universities, was awarded the 2006 John Kluge prize for his contributions to American history. First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin is a memorable hour in the presence of one of the era's most beloved teachers, and one of its most important voices for inter-racial justice and understanding."

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.'"

Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker
'Profiles the life and work of Ella Baker during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the period of the most dramatic upsurge in the struggle for racial justice. Since Ms. Baker's activism spanned over 50 years in the North and the South, the struggles of earlier decades are portrayed, giving a sense of the continuity of the fight for social change."

Harriet Tubman: They Called Her Moses
"Harriet Tubman is a familiar and revered name in American history. But many are unfamiliar with the details of her remarkable story, the depth of her character, and the inner motivations that drove her. Born into slavery in Maryland in the 1820s, Harriet Tubman's resolute Christian faith would compel her to extraordinary acts of courage and sacrifice. Through her selfless efforts, hundreds of African-American slaves escaped to freedom. Tubman's tenacious trust in God and love for others earned her the title 'the Moses of her people'."

In Remembrance of Martin
"Personal comments from family members, friends, former classmates, and advisors are chronicled in this moving piece honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Includes the "I have a dream" speech on the Lincoln Memorial and other memorable events."

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket
"Presents a look at the life and influence of author James Baldwin, 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. Through interviews with writers and friends, this documentary captures the passionate intellect and courageous writing of a man who was born Black, impoverished, gifted and gay."

Jesse Owens
"Despite Jesse Owens's remarkable victories in the face of Nazi racism at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the athlete struggled to find a place for himself in a United States that was still wrestling to overcome its own deeply entrenched bias."

Julian Bond: Reflections from the Civil Rights Movement
"Now in his seventies, African American social activist Julian Bond recalls the experience of growing up in the segregated south. His recollections chronicle several turbulent decades of American history as society was evolving to allow more opportunity for African Americans. Includes scenes from Bond's classroom at the University of Virginia."

The Life and Legend of Sojourner Truth
"Based on: Narrative of Sojourner Truth, A Northern Slave; reflections of those who knew her, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln."

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."

Muhamed Ali, The Greatest
"The first part of the film documents how in 1964 Cassius Clay became heavyweight champion of the world. The day after his victory, Clay reveals that he is a Black Muslim. He defies white America, and changes his name to Muhammad Ali. In the second part, Ali fights George Foreman for the championship at an incredible cultural event in Mobutu's Zairë in 1974. Ali reclaims his glory, his crown, and his legend."

Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen
" 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 Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights
"...tells the story of Whitney Young, who biographer Nancy Weiss Malkiel called 'the inside man of the black revolution.' A social worker who became the executive director of the National Urban League from 1961 to his death in 1971, he was denigrated by black power advocates, but by challenging America's business and political communities directly, Young was able to make in-roads where other civil rights leader could not.

Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey
"Documentary of Ralph Bunche's life as a statesman and diplomat. He was one of the founders of the United Nations and later received the Nobel Prize for his peacemaking efforts."

This Little Light of Mine: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer
"In Ruleville, MS, in 1961, summers were scorching, cotton was still king, and African-Americans were shackled to white intimidation, poverty, and cruel injustice. Fannie Lou Hamer, a middle-aged sharecropper living on a sprawling plantation, had known no other way of life. That all changed when an invitation to a voter registration meeting came her way in 1962. This Little Light of Mine follows the life of this extraordinary woman, who dedicated her life to fighting for voting rights, and was one of the great heroines of the Civil Rights Era. Fannie Lou Hamer was an undeniable force against the white political establishment of the 1960's and she became a voice for the millions seeking the right to vote. Far too often, women of the Civil Rights Movement have been relegated to footnotes in history. Instead, this documentary shines the spotlight where it belongs, squarely on Fannie Lou Hamer, and celebrates her role in the Civil Rights Movement."

"Mike Tyson, one of the most controversial and misunderstood boxers to ever step inside the ring, reveals insights into his life through interviews, archival footage, and photographs."

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
"The in-depth and intimate story of one of the most important African Americans to live in the first half of the 20th century. Tells the story of Jack Johnson, who was the first African American boxer to win the most coveted title in all of sports - Heavyweight Campion of the World. Includes his struggles in and out of the ring and his desire to live his life as a free man."