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Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

  • Peabody Award Winner
  • John E. O’Connor Award winner The American Historical Association
  • Named 2019 Notable Video by the American Library Association
  • NAACP Image Award winner

Lorraine Hansberry wrote the classic play A Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (broadcast on PBS' American Masters Series in January 2018) is the first ever feature documentary on her complex life and it explores both her artistic achievements and political activism. The film features interviews with the play’s original cast members, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Louis Gossett, Jr. and Glynn Turman, director Lloyd Richards, producer Phil Rose, supporter Harry Belafonte as well as writer Amiri Baraka along with excerpts from the 1961 Hollywood movie.

Many people only know Hansberry for that achievement but Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart makes abundantly clear that there is much more to know. Filmmakers Tracy Heather Strain and Randall MacLowry combed archives worldwide and had unprecedented access to Hansberry’s personal papers, archives, home movies and photos. Like her writing and activism, the film draws attention to some of the most outstanding issues of the mid-Twentieth Century and beyond (racial justice, colonialism, feminism, class divisions, sexuality) and addresses the role of artists and intellectuals in bringing them to center stage. In addition to being attainable from California Newsreel, Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is now available through the educational streaming platforms Kanopy, Alexander Street and Films Media Group. Kanopy is including the film among the "Must-See Films for Every Major". Please visit the film's page on the California Newsreel website for information on public screenings.

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2024 The James Baldwin Centenary

The year 2024 is the Centenary of James Baldwin’s birth. There will be commemorations throughout the year, some featuring the classic documentary James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket

Health Disparities and Covid-19

The groundbreaking and widely used California Newsreel series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? explores the impact of health disparities in the United States. The Covid-19 pandemic underscores how the issues are very much still with us. As Dr. Lisa Cooper Founder and Director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Equity and author of the new book, Why Are Health Disparities Everyone’s Problem? says "Health inequities actually increase costs to our entire society. They result in loss of productivity and competitiveness on an economic level; they result in community disharmony, stress, and civic unrest; [and they cause] a huge burden of human suffering."

RACE – The Power of an Illusion How the Racial Wealth Gap Was Created

To help people understand how U.S. government housing policy after WWII produced segregated suburbs and a persistent racial wealth gap - California Newsreel has posted a 30-minute segment entitled How the Racial Wealth Gap Was Created. It is an excerpt from Race - The Power of an Illusion that is available on Vimeo for free video streaming.

Sonia Sanchez to receive the 2022 Edward MacDowell Medal

Poet/activist/educator Sonia Sanchez will receive the very prestigious Edward MacDowell Medal. Writer and MacDowell Fellow Walter Mosely will present the award to Sanchez at a ceremony on the MacDowell grounds in New Hampshire on July 10, 2022. Sanchez joins an august group of other recipients such as Robert Frost, Georgia O’Keefe, Leonard Bernstein, Louise Bourgeois, I.M. Pei, Sonny Rollins, Stephen Sondheim, Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, Charles Gaines and Rosanne Cash. Congratulations Sonia Sanchez!

Sanchez is the subject of the award-winning documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez.

New Additions to Companion Website for
Race – The Power of an Illusion

Since its 2003 PBS broadcast and video release, millions of people have used California Newsreel's series Race – The Power of an Illusion to scrutinize their own deep-seated beliefs about race and racism and explore how our social divisions are not natural or inevitable, but made. A new companion website, www.racepowerofanillusion.org was recently launched. There, educators, trainers and civic leaders will find video clips, discussion guides and lesson plans, transcripts, a "Race Literacy Quiz", interviews with scholars, handouts and other updated resources keeping Race – The Power of an Illusion salient and timely and helping them integrate the series effectively into their classes and programs. A special element for educators features video clips of professors from different disciplines illustrating how they use specific scenes from the series in their courses.

Most recently the site added a post by Prof. Ruha Benjamin referencing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic entitled, “Black Skin, White Masks: Racism, Vulnerability & Refuting Black Pathology

The companion website was created by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, the American Cultures Center and the Media Resource Center at the University of California-Berkeley in partnership with California Newsreel.

Agents of Change. The Fight for Campus Equity and Inclusion

Current struggles to make colleges welcoming and relevant for students of color continue movements which swept across campuses fifty years ago. The documentary Agents of Change tells the timely and inspiring story of how successful protests for equity and inclusion led to establishing the first Black and Ethnic Studies departments at two very different universities, San Francisco State (1968) and Cornell (1969). The film offers eye-opening accounts by the young men and women at the forefront of these groundbreaking efforts, which today’s young racial justice activists are boldly carrying forward on college campuses and beyond.

Recognizing Marlon Riggs, a Resource Page

2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Marlon Riggs' groundbreaking documentary Tongues Untied which is now among the prestigious works in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. It was also the 25th anniversary of his untimely death. His classic and widely used film on anti-Black stereotypes Ethnic Notions is regrettably still relevant as recent events indicate. In 2019 programs took place in the US and internationally to recognize Marlon and his body of work. A growing appreciation for the impact of his work continues. All of his films are available for digital licensing. We have created a Marlon Riggs Critical Resource page featuring articles, guides, transcripts and media. Riggs became the youngest ever tenured professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism.

Home Video Streaming Now Available For California Newsreel Films

Scores of films from California Newsreel are now available for short term digital rentals via Vimeo. These include titles from our various collections: African American Perspectives, the Library of African Cinema, Health and Society and Labor and Global Economy.

The Raising of America - Evaluation Report

After a two-year campaign to change the conversation about early child development with our film series The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, we are excited to share The Raising of America Evaluation Report. The report examines use patterns, presents case studies and suggests how to use film for social justice.

The New Black-LGBT Rights and African American Communities

This award-winning and timely documentary boldly examines the challenging issues facing African American communities and gay civil rights with a particular focus on the role of faith institutions. While respectfully presenting the activism on differing sides, it makes a compelling case that the fight for LGBT rights in Black communities is an extension of the Black Freedom Struggle. Here is the TED Talk and an interview by director Yoruba Richen describing why she made the documentary. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled same gender couples have the right to marry in all 50 states, there is renewed interested in the film, and both institutions and home viewers can purchase the film on DVD.

Furious Flower III – Seeding the Future of African American Poetry

Furious Flower III compiles close to five hours of the highlights from the 2014 Furious Flower conference featuring thirty-two of today’s leading African American poets in performance and conversation (among them Rita Dove, Toi Derricotte, Elizabeth Alexander, Quincy Troupe, jessica Care moore and Jericho Brown). This collection constitutes a video anthology of a vital decade in one of the most exciting and influential practices driving American literature in the Twenty-First Century. California Newsreel also released the highlights from previous Furious Flower conferences, Furious Flower I and Furious Flower II, and is now releasing Furious Flower – The Complete Edition composed of all of the Furious Flower conferences. Furious Flower – The Complete Edition is a multiple volume video collection constituting fourteen hours of once-in-a-lifetime readings by and encounters with leading African American poets.

Celebrating African Cinema

Inspired by the work of African filmmakers, California Newsreel launched its Library of African Cinema in 1991, with 8 films from 5 countries. It now includes more than 50 films from 25 nations, including classic features by internationally renowned masters like Ousmane Sembene (Faat Kine), Gaston Kaboré (Wend Kuuni and Zan Boko) and the Sundance award-winning O Heroi .

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