Tell Them We Are Rising
(The 2017 Sundance Film Festival kicked off on January 19 and runs through January 29. The HtN staff has boots on the ground and a crew working hard to review screeners hard like this, Stanley Nelson’s crucial doc on African-American higher education, Tell Them We Are Rising.)
From documentary director Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution) comes a new film about the African-American experience that explores the founding and evolution of our nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). From the 19th century to the present, these schools have afforded traditionally disenfranchised black populations the opportunity to educate themselves and thereby form a bulwark against those who would continue to demean and debase them. Nelson’s movie offers a solid history lesson on early challenges and the obstacles and opportunities that followed, explaining why even today there is a need and a desire for institutions where African Americans can feel comfortable. One young woman, a current student at Spelman College, even announces towards the end, “I just want to be me.” Hear, hear!