American Promise

American Promise trailer  I loved this documentary. The families it depicted have such different life experiences than ours; even so, their stories resonated with me. I found it remarkable that the boys whose educational lives we witness over a 13-year span could have so much in common with my son, who’s growing up in a rural Kansas community.

Here’s a description from the American Promise website:

American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity.

PBS streamed this film online in February 2014, and it’s currently available in bits and pieces on the Web. I’ve included a link to the trailer to give you a taste. If you have the opportunity to see this remarkable film, make the time. But bring some tissues: If your family faces any of these issues, the film may bring you tears.

Emotion aside, what I loved about “American Promise” was the way it conveyed experiences that transcend class and geography. The fact is, black students in America, boys especially, have much to overcome. Money doesn’t necessarily change that, nor does opportunity. Hearing these wealthy, highly-educated parents worry about the exact things that trouble me was somehow comforting.

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