I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary by Raoul Peck, brings the final writings of James Baldwin to life for today’s audiences. Adapted from the prolific author’s last, unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House,” the film highlights Baldwin’s personal reflections on the lives and deaths of his friends who shaped the civil rights movement: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through the prism of his own life and the racial climate that motivated and killed these men, Baldwin unflinchingly challenges the United States to confront its denial of its racial problems, contrived concepts of blackness and whiteness, and the illusion of a post-racial American society. (93 min.)
high school and professional development
The Bad Kids is a documentary by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe about Black Rock Continuation High School, an alternative public school for at-risk 11th- and 12th-graders in Yucca Valley, California. Rejecting a common pejorative phrase, the educators at Black Rock High don’t see their students as “the bad kids.” Knowing that a single caring adult can make a transformative difference in a student’s life, these educators support and coach their students through traumas, serious hurdles, school work and academic credit fulfillment. The Bad Kids is an up-close look at Principal Vonda Viland’s leadership in a rural, impoverished community and three students in particular: a new teen father, a young woman who has been sexually abused and a young man grappling with a drug addiction. (101 min.)
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules, is the first feature documentary about Dr. Maya Angelou. Part of PBS’ American Masters series, the film traces Angelou’s life (April 4, 1928–May 28, 2014) from her childhood in the Jim Crow South through her rise as a literary great and American icon. It’s a story told through archival and contemporary film footage, photographs and interviews—many with Angelou herself. As an actress, singer, writer, poet and civil rights activist, Angelou spoke and wrote decisively about her truth, a truth borne out of tremendous hardship and resilience. An accompanying set of PBS LearningMedia resources for grades 6–12 is available here. (113 min.)
middle school, high school and professional development
A new character debuted on Sesame Street in April 2017. Her name is Julia; she’s a 4-year-old with red hair and bright green eyes, and she has autism. Online, Sesame Workshop also released an initiative called Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. Available in both English and Spanish, this initiative offers videos for young kids centered around Julia and children on the autism spectrum, as well as “day-in-the-life” videos for parents or other caretakers, daily routine cards and resources for siblings. Many of these materials are relevant to educators who serve students with autism. Get online, meet Julia and see the amazing!