Through a collaboration between public media stations and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), on Thursday, Jan. 25, Firelight Films and Mississippi Public Broadcasting will present a screening of the latest film from Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director, Stanley Nelson, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities as part of a national HBCU Tour.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the creative team, university leaders, prominent alumni, and other invited guests to talk about the important issues explored in the documentary.
The tour is a major part of HBCU Rising, the year-long multi-platform engagement project designed to drive dialogue sparked by the film among a variety of audiences. Written, directed and produced by Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution) and produced by Firelight Films, Tell Them We Are Rising reveals for the first time the complex history of how HBCUs, havens for Black intellectuals, artists and trailblazers, offered a path of promise toward the American dream, educated the architects of freedom movements throughout the decades and cultivated leaders in every field. The film also examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture and national identity for more than 150 years.
“We felt it was very important to showcase the film to students on HBCU campuses because this is a vital part of our African-American and American history,” said director Stanley Nelson. “Many students and even alumni are not aware of the deep history of how and why HBCUs were created and the foundation for success they provided for African Americans. We appreciate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s support and the partnership on the ground with local public television and radio stations to make this tour possible.”
Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Jackson State University and Tougaloo College will host a preview screening of the feature documentary Tell Them We Are Rising on Jan. 25 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Mississippi e-Center @ Jackson State University in Jackson. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. To reserve your seat, register at mpbonline.org/tellthemwearerising.The screening event includes Q&A session with Stanley Nelson and panelists followed by a dinner.
“This is an important documentary because nowhere in America are HBCUs more vital than in Mississippi,” said Ronnie Agnew, MPB executive director. “There will be many who will be surprised to learn about facts surrounding their early history. Stanley Nelson’s documentary is as revealing as it is inspiring. And make no mistake, despite hardships, inequity in education, and violence, the takeaway from this documentary is how crucial HBCUs are to our country.”
In addition to events on campuses, HBCU Rising features public and marquee VIP screenings in major cities across the country, StoryCorps audio stories, video shorts exploring HBCU life, and an all-generation, all-school HBCU Digital Yearbook.
The 90-minute film will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series, Independent Lens on Monday, Feb. 19 from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. The film will be available for online viewing at mpbonline.org/tellthemwearerising beginning February 20.
Major funding for the film, HBCU Rising and associated campus tours was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), as part of the public media initiative, American Graduate. Additional funding for campus tours is provided by Bank of America.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is directed, written and produced by Stanley Nelson, co-directed and co-produced by Marco Williams, written by Marcia Smith and produced by Cyndee Readdean and Stacey L. Holman, with executive producers Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS and Lois Vossen, Independent Lens. Funding for the film is provided by the CPB, ITVS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Ford Foundation.