Thirteen years ago, documentarians Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson decided to film their son, Idris, and close friend, Seun, from the time they entered kindergarten to high school graduation. The journey of Idris and Seun turned into the award-winning documentary American Promise, which will premiere this evening at 10 p.m. on the PBS POV (Point of View) series.
The national television premiere—the film has already been released theatrically—will allow more people to share in a moving exploration of diversity in New York’s elite private-school world and our society’s struggles with identity, race, and class.
American Promise shatters stereotypes and forces us to see black boys in their full humanity. Black boys are our sons, our brothers, our neighbors, and our children. Black boys are our future lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, farmers, sanitation workers, coders, and yes, presidents.
To leverage the film’s impact, Joe and Michèle started the American Promise Campaign to foster dialogue, discussion, and debate through community screenings with parents, youth, educators, and policy makers. The campaign also serves as a resource for those who may be moved by the film in different ways and have unique roles to play in the broader campaign to advance black male achievement.
The Fledging Fund and the Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement support the campaign because we believe that films can spark movements, and can and do have social impact.
The full power of documentary films often manifests when the lights come up. People want to connect with the issues in new ways and become involved. It’s critical to have tools and resources in place so that when the viewers ask, “What can we do?” there are clear answers.
We invite you to watch this compelling, brave, and moving story, and to visit the campaign’s website and find out how you can get involved. The American Promise Campaign is ready to provide all of us with an opportunity to have real impact in improving the life outcomes for all black boys.