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February 03, 2014

What is the status of America’s promise of an equal shot at education for all – for descendants of slaves as well as first-generation immigrants? Where does the pressure to get into and through college come from?

A new provocative documentary film explores these and other questions by following two middle-class African-American boys from the time they enter kindergarten in one of the country’s most elite private schools through high school graduation. 

Thirteen years in the making, American Promise premieres tonight on PBS.

Last week, filmmaker Joe Brewster joined WGBH’s Basic Black to discuss the making of the film. Brewster, whose young son Idris is documented in the film, said he wanted to address assumptions around black boys and their ability to learn.

“Our motivation was an artistic motivation,” Brewster said. “We as documentary filmmakers wanted to tell a story about a place where we’ve never been before – that the audience has never been before. The independent school is not well chronicled, but it’s never been chronicled with African-American and a diverse population.”

Watch Brewster's full interview on Basic Black:

You can meet filmmaker Michele Stephenson on Tuesday, February 25 at WGBH in Brighton. 

For more information and tickets, visit the WGBH events page. 

American Promise, diversity, higher ed, increasing access and success, Basic Black

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