Los Angeles, CA — On November 22nd, students from Dorsey High School exchanged their classrooms for the Cinemark Baldwin Hills Theater to attend a special screening hosted by the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) of the groundbreaking film, Harriet (Focus Features).
The screening ties into their Social Studies and History curricula. Indeed, the film has made cinematic history as the first major studio film ever produced about the iconic Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman (versus the TV film over 4 decades ago).
Written by Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans) and acclaimed filmmaker, Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou) who also directed, the film stars Tony, Grammy & Emmy Award winner, Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) as Harriet; along with Tony & Grammy Award winner, Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) and award-winning singer-actress, Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight).
This special screening was the culmination of BHERC sponsoring several other screenings during November that brought over 1,000 students from Los Angeles, Compton and Inglewood schools to see the empowering and “sheroic” movie. Further, among the students attending these screenings, are young aspiring filmmakers who also participated in BHERC‘s recent Youth Diversity Film Festival.
These screenings represent the second phase of BHERCs efforts to expand support of Harriet. The first phase was a successful “Call-To-Action” campaign where BHERC garnered the support of PanHellenic, religious, civic and community groups, as well as other individuals and entities from across the country to turn out support for the movie Harriet. In fact, the film has made over $32 million.
The screenings to date have proven to be a significant and exciting opportunity that BHERC views as a way to broaden access to this important film—that already has Oscar buzz—for local multicultural youth. For many students it is the first time seeing a film based on a real-life superhero during slavery, an era where the perception still persists that African Americans did not fight for their freedom nor tried to escape enslavement, when in fact there where many who did—some more known than others—William & Ellen Craft, Frederick Douglass, William Still, Sojourner Truth, etc. In addition, for those students who submitted their own films for the BHERC Youth Diversity Film Festival, they noted that seeing Harriet informed and inspired their own future filmmaking and storytelling.
“This effort is a core practice for BHERC. Promoting films of excellence that uplift and encourage, as well as making certain that all audiences are exposed to those such films. Especially our youth!,” states BHERC President and Founder, Sandra J. Evers-Manly. “This is a powerful film about self-determination, personal worth, values, love of self and man-kind. Our young people need this message now more than ever. This film delivers it beautifully!”
Aside from Dorsey, the other schools BHERC has hosted Harriet screenings for include: Compton High; Crenshaw High; Manual Arts High; Morningside High; and Washington Prep. In addition to the schools, several senior citizens organizations were hosted as well. For more information about BHERC and its diverse programs go to www.bherc.org.
About Black Hollywood Education & Resource Center (BHERC)
Founded in 1996 by Sandra Evers-Manly, BHERC is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television. BHERC programs include film festivals, award ceremonies, book signings, script readings, contests, scholarships, programs for youth and special events. BHERC recognizes the contributions of Black men and women in front of and behind the scenes in the entertainment industry.