‘Tell Them We Are Rising’: Film Review | Sundance 2017

Two years after his documentary on the Black Panthers, filmmaker Stanley Nelson chronicles the evolution of the United States’ historically black colleges and universities.

Elegantly condensing a miniseries’ worth of history into a streamlined feature, veteran documentarian Stanley Nelson’s latest work traces the century-and-a-half story of historically black colleges and universities. While the doc, which PBS will air in the fall, fits neatly into the pubcaster’s template of archival material, talking heads and impressionistic reenactments, its rich and sharply edited selection of stills, footage and new commentary makes for bracing viewing. Tell Them We Are Rising reveals the crucial role of HBCUs not only in the identity of black Americans but in the nation as a whole. 

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