The past few weeks since George Floyd’s death have been a long overdue wake up call to not only America, but to the world about Systemic Racism and how it affects the lives of Black people in the United States. From our fraught medical system to police brutality to even how our country handles natural disasters, the United States has continuously put the lives of Black people last, and it’s time to educate ourselves so we can work to change this disgusting system of structural inequality.
Juneteenth is an American holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865: the day all slaves in the state of Texas were freed. It’s an ideal day to sit down and continue these tough discussions about Systemic Racism, and how you can continue to fight for Black lives in America.
We’re highlighting a number of films about Systemic Racism. The Power to Heal reveals how Medicare fights racial segregation in the U.S. healthcare system; A Dangerous Idea reveals the gross history of eugenics and ongoing biological nonsense used to justify the pathology of white privilege; and Love & Solidarity explores how non-violent protests lead by Rev. James Lawson have proven an effective strategy
In addition, we’re featuring Cooked which uses Chicago’s horrid heat disaster in 1995 as an example of how the U.S. government doesn’t fight to save Black lives in a moment of crisis; Come Hell or High Water follows one man’s fight to save his ancestral community from gentrification and post-Katrina sprawl; and ’63 Boycott, which connects 1963’s massive Chicago Public Schools boycott to contemporary issues around race and youth activism.
For a complete listing of documentaries related to Systemic Racism that are available with public performance rights, please visit the Race and Racism subject area in our catalog.
LOVE & SOLIDARITY is an exploration of nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Rev. James Lawson. Lawson provided crucial strategic guidance while working with Martin Luther King, Jr., in southern freedom struggles and the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. Moving to Los Angeles in 1974, Lawson continued his nonviolence organizing in multi-racial community and worker coalitions that have helped to remake the LA labor movement.
Through interviews and historical documents, acclaimed labor and civil rights historian Michael Honey (“To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice”) and award-winning filmmaker Errol Webber put Lawson’s discourse on nonviolent direct action on the front burner of today’s struggles against economic inequality, racism and violence, and for human rights, peace, and economic justice.
COME HELL OR HIGH WATER follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who returns to his native coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Derrick is consumed by the effort to protect the community his great grandfather’s grandfather settled as a former slave. He is on the verge of a breakthrough when Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast.
After years of restoration work to bring Turkey Creek back from the brink of death, the community gains significant federal support for cultural and ecological preservation. Derrick plans to return to Boston to rebuild the life he abandoned, but another disaster seals his fate as a reluctant activist.
On October 22, 1963, more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed “Willis Wagons,” on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools.
Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn with the participants’ reflections today, ’63 BOYCOTT connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism.
Chicago suffered the worst heat disaster in U.S history in 1995, when 739 residents—mostly elderly and black—died over the course of one week. As COOKED links the deadly heat wave’s devastation back to the underlying manmade disaster of structural racism, it delves deep into one of our nation’s biggest growth industries: Disaster Preparedness.
Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand, uses her signature serious-yet-quirky connect-the-dots-style to forge inextricable connections between the cataclysmic natural disasters we’re willing to see and prepare for and the slow-motion disasters we’re not. That is, until an extreme weather event hits and they are made exponentially more deadly and visible.
Before Medicare, disparities in access to hospital care were dramatic. Less than half the nation’s hospitals served black and white patients equally, and in the South, 1/3 of hospitals would not admit African-Americans even for emergencies.
Using the carrot of Medicare dollars, the federal government virtually ended the practice of racially segregating patients, doctors, medical staffs, blood supplies and linens. POWER TO HEAL illustrates how Movement leaders and grass-roots volunteers pressed and worked with the federal government to achieve a greater measure of justice and fairness for African-Americans.
There is a dangerous idea that has threatened the American Dream from the very beginning. It is a strong current of biological determinism which views some groups, races and individuals as inherently superior to others and more deserving of fundamental rights. Despite the founders’ assertion that “all are created equal,” this idea was used to justify disenfranchising women, blacks and Native Americans from the earliest days of the Republic.
A DANGEROUS IDEA reveals how this new genetic determinism provided an abhorrent rationale for state sanctioned crimes committed against America’s poorest, most vulnerable citizens and for violations of the fundamental civil rights of untold millions.
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