“Who We Are” Documentary Chronicling American Racism Premieres Jan. 14

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is a documentary feature film that confronts this history head on.
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Photo: Poster

Former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson’s groundbreaking "Who We Are:" talk on the history of U.S. anti- Black racism is interwoven with archival footage, interviews, and Robinson's story, exploring the enduring legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it.

The shocking murder of George Floyd and the ensuing swell of protests across this country have forced a reckoning, not just with police brutality against Black Americans, but with the painful history of slavery and anti-Black racism in America. Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is a documentary feature film that confronts this history head on.

Former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson had one of the best educations in America. He went to Marquette University and Harvard Law School and has been a trial lawyer for over 40 years. In 2011, Robinson began raising his then 13-year-old nephew and, as a Black man raising a Black son, struggled with what to tell his son about racism in America.

Robinson was 11 years old when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Robinson’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He marched with his father and brother in one of the Memphis Sanitation Worker strikes. Robinson also attended a court hearing for some of those arrested for marching and that experience, at 11 years old, is why he ultimately became a criminal defense lawyer.

Before King’s murder, Robinson believed the country had reached a “tipping point,” and true racial equality was within reach. When King was killed, it felt to Robinson like the movement died with him. How, he wondered, did we get here?

After many years as a practicing lawyer, Robinson started looking at our Nation’s history and was shocked by how deeply encoded white supremacy and the oppression of Black Americans is in that history. For the past 10 years, in community centers, concert halls, houses of worship, and conference rooms across America, Robinson has been sharing what he learned. He has become a sought-after speaker, and his presentation has become legendary. On Juneteenth (June 19) 2018, Robinson brought his presentation to the New York stage, performing before a packed house at the historic Town Hall theater on Broadway.

In Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, Robinson faces his largest audience, asking all of us to examine who we are, where we come from, and who we want to be. Anchored by Robinson’s Town Hall performance, the film interweaves historical and present-day archival footage, Robinson’s personal story, and vérité and interview footage capturing Robinson’s meetings with Black change-makers and eyewitnesses to history. From a hanging tree in Charleston, South Carolina, to a walking tour of the origins of slavery in colonial New York, to the site of a 1947 lynching in rural Alabama, the film brings history to life, exploring the enduring legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it.

In Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, Robinson shows us how legalized discrimination and state-sanctioned brutality, murder, dispossession, and disenfranchisement continued long after slavery ended, profoundly impeding Black Americans’ ability to create and accumulate wealth as well as to gain access to jobs, housing, education, and health care. Weaving heartbreak, humor, passion, and rage, Robinson’s words lay bare an all-but-forgotten past, as well as our shared responsibility to create a better country in our lifetimes.

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America was written by Jeffery Robinson, and directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler.

"An urgent and timely documentary. A sounding alarm for America, and the world, to grapple with its original sin. Expertly crafted and beautifully articulated through the lens and words of master storytellers. Could be the very best documentary feature you'll see this year." -Clayton Davis, VARIETY

The simplest thing to say about SXSW Documentary Spotlight Audience Award winner Who We Are is that it should be part of the standard curriculum in every school in America.” - Michael King, DAILY SCREENS

“Who We Are is just as compelling when Robinson turns to his personal history in the film’s final stretch…” - Inkoo Kang, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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