The story of Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the Civil War and influenced the course of our nation yet remains one of America’s most important untold stories. A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries—and path of promise toward the American dream—Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told.
A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and trailblazers—and path of promise toward the American dream—Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. Written, directed and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution) and produced by Firelight Films, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity. Beginning with the earliest attempts at education to today’s campuses, the 90-minute film will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series, Independent Lens, on Monday, February 19, 2018, 9pm – 10:30pm ET.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities is the second in a three-part series called “America Revisited” that includes “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” which was the most watched Independent Lens program ever, and the forthcoming, “The Slave Trade: Creating A New World.”
The film is the centerpiece of a yearlong multi-platform effort, HBCU Rising – www.hbcurising.com, featuring public and marquee VIP screenings in major cities across the country, StoryCorps audio stories, video shorts, an HBCU campus tour and an all-generation, all-school HBCU Digital Yearbook. National partnerships in support of the film include: The Black College Fund, Color of Change, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Thurgood Marshall College Fund, National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Akila Worksongs, Schomburg Center for the Research in Black Culture, United Negro College Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Blackout for
Human Rights, the HBCU Green Fund, MomsRising and Campaign for Black Male Achievement.
Nelson is renowned for examining the history and experiences of African Americans. His most notable films are The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Freedom Riders, Freedom Summer, Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life & Death of People’s Temple, and The Murder of Emmett Till. Tell Them We Are Rising premiered in January 2017 at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, making it his ninth festival premiere, more than any other nonfiction filmmaker.
With multiple industry awards, a National Humanities medal and a MacArthur “Genius” award to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. His company, Firelight Media is a non-profit production company which provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians and expands the reach and impact of nonfiction film.
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.