Why a Black Youth Documentary?

Arguably more than any other underrepresented group of Americans, African American youth reflect the challenges of inclusion and empowerment in the post-civil rights period. Whether the issue is the mass incarceration of African Americans, the controversy surrounding Affirmative Action as a policy to redress past discrimination, the increased use of high stakes testing to regulate standards of education, debates over appropriate and effective campaigns for HIV and AIDS testing and prevention programs, efforts to limit sex education in public schools, or initiatives to tie means-tested resources to family structure and marriage, most of these initiatives and controversies are focused on, structured around, and disproportionately impact young, often marginalized African Americans. However, in contrast to the centrality of African American youth to the politics and policies of the country, their perspectives and voice have generally been absent from not only public policy debates, but media and broadcast programs. Increasingly, researchers and policy-makers have been content to detail and measure the behavior of young African Americans with little concern for their attitudes, ideas, wants and desires. This documentary works to fill that void.

The Woke Up Black producing team followed five black youth aged 16-21 for over two years. During this time we witnessed their interactions with family members, educational institutions, and the legal and judicial system. This provided a rare opportunity to hear youth speak out on some important and potentially life-altering topics of the day. Although some of the youth profiled face extraordinary circumstances, they all remain hopeful and committed to building a successful future. Ultimately, the film underscores the humanity that we all share with each other regardless of race or age.

Past Screenings (2011-2014):

World Premiere:

Gene Siskel Film Center,
Chicago, IL, February 2011

Public Television Broadcasts:

WTTW Channel 11 - Chicago, IL, June 2011
WTTW Channel 11 - Chicago, IL, June 2012

Film Festivals:

San Francisco Black Film Festival - San Francisco, CA, June 2011
Bronze Lens Film Festival - Atlanta, GA, November 2011
San Diego Black Film Festival - San Diego, CA, January 2012
Big Muddy Film Festival - Carbondale, IL, February 2012


Black Excellence Award, African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, 2012

High Schools, Colleges and Universities:

Edgewood College - Madison, WI, October 2011
Roosevelt University - Chicago, IL, October 2011
University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago, IL, October 2011
University of Chicago - Chicago, IL, November 2011
Purdue University Calumet - Hammond, IN, February 2012
Loyola University Chicago - Chicago, IL, February 2012
College of Charleston - Charleston, SC, February 2012
North Charleston High School - Charleston, SC, February 2012
The Alliance School of Milwaukee - Milwaukee, WI, May 2012
Achievement First Brooklyn High School - Brooklyn, NY, February 2013
Harold Washington College - Chicago, IL, February 2013
The University of Wisconsin at Madison - Madison, WI, March 2013 and February 2014
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne - Fort Wayne, Indiana, April 2013
The University of Iowa, Public Policy Center, September 2014

Community, Professional and Governmental Organizations:

ICE Theater - Chicago, IL, June 2011
Credit Union National Association - Madison, WI, October 2011
Chicago Urban League - Chicago, IL, February 2012
Women and Girls Foundation - Pittsburgh, PA, March 2012
Chicago Commons - Chicago, IL, April 2012
WI Association of Child & Youth Care Professionals - Milwaukee, WI, May 2012
YWCA Dayton at the Dayton Art Institute - Dayton, OH, July 2012
After School Matters Annual Professional Development Conference - Chicago, IL, August 2012
Department of Defense panel at annual Blacks in Government National Training Conference - Detroit, MI, August 2012
Chicago Filmmakers - Chicago, IL, August 2012
Chicago Cultural Center - Chicago, IL, October 2012
ElevArte Studio (formerly Pros Arts Studio) - Chicago, IL, November 2012
Out Twin Cities Film Festival - Minneapolis, MN, February 2013
NYC Premiere with support from Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement and The New York Women's Foundation - New York, NY, February 2013
Middle Collegiate Church - New York, NY, February 2013
Maysles Cinema - New York, NY, February 2013
YWCA Northeast Indiana - Fort Wayne, Indiana, April 2013
Rise Sister Rise - Columbus, Ohio, July 2013

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