Film Streams in collaboration with Center for Holistic Development will present a special screening of the documentary AMERICAN PROMISE about two boys from middle-class African American families attending a private school in Manhattan. Immediately following the November 5, 2013, showing will be a panel discussion facilitated by Omaha City Councilman <b>Ben Gray</b>, including: <br><br> <b>Anthony Williams</b>, Dean of Students, Omaha North High School; <br><b>Ted Stilwill</b>, CEO Learning Community Douglas and Sarpy Counties;<br> <b>Douglas Montgomery</b>, ninth grade student, Omaha Central High School; <br><b>Alphonso Shade</B>, parent and African American Achievement Council Member;<br> <b>Akile Banister</B>, Executive Director, Banister Leadership Academy; <br>and <b>Corey Wiley</B>, African American Youth Leadership Program Facilitator, Center for Holistic Development.
AMERICAN PROMISE is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 12 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who entered a very prestigious–and historically white–private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Dalton School had made a commitment to recruit students of color, and five-year-old best friends Idris Brewster and Oluwaseun (Seun) Summers of Brooklyn were two of the gifted children who were admitted. The boys were placed in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges, if little reflection of their cultural identities.
Idris’ parents, Joe, a Harvard- and Stanford-trained psychiatrist, and Michèle, a Columbia Law School graduate and filmmaker, decided to film the boys’ progress starting in 1999. They and members of the large Summers family soon found themselves struggling not only with kids’ typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps. AMERICAN PROMISE, which traces the boys’ journey from kindergarten through high school graduation, finds the greatest challenge for the families – and perhaps the country – is to close the black male educational achievement gap, which has been called “the civil rights crusade of the 21st century.”