When the students went to see Raoul Peck’s I am not your Negro in June, they didn’t yet know about Stanley Nelson’s award winning film Tell them we are rising. The story of Black Colleges and Universities. They didn’t yet know that they would meet Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith. They didn’t yet know that I am Not your Negro was one of Stanley Nelson’s favorite films.
But on September 13th, all the juniors went into the amphitheater to meet the film director and his co-writer, who had worked for over a decade to make a documentary film about how the struggles to create HBCUs advanced the cause of civil rights by giving African-Americans access to full-fledged higher academics. An intense and unforgettable moment of sharing during which Marcia Smith and Stanley Nelson helped the students understand so much about the film making process, about what it means to be an African-American and about what James Baldwin eloquently described as the “people are trapped in history and history is trapped in them”, the weight of history.