The warm night of Feb. 20 brought a buzz of anticipation for students and Johnson City residents alike. This anticipation was due to the promise of an excellent and truly moving documentary.
The documentary was shown as part of Black History Month and screened by the “Unapologetically Black” group.
At 7 p.m. seats of the D.P. Culp University Center auditorium filled quickly with people of all ages, each waiting to see the award-winning 2017 film, “I Am Not Your Negro.”
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the very real, and not so long ago history of racism in the United States. In fact, the highly cinematic documentary spans from the time of Jim Crow to the current Black Lives Matter movement.
“I Am Not Your Negro” is based off of James Baldwin’s uncompleted book “Remember This House.” The gritty documentary is told directly from the pages of Baldwin’s uncompleted book and expresses Baldwin’s admiration for his close friends Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
All 3 of these men stood for equality in a nation that was then divided and struggling with social injustice, but the documentary raises the question: How far has this nation actually come and where does it stand now in terms of racism? This question and more was actually addressed before the documentary began.
Dr. Daryl Carter, ETSU history professor and alum, opened the floor for discussion on the current issues in the United States. Students were allowed to open up and ask questions they could not normally ask.
Carter provided a brief lecture over the transition from the time of slavery to present day and discussed the difficulties that this current generation is currently dealing with.
“This is a part of the DNA, the code of American History,” Carter said in his speech.
Carter explained the importance of remembering the very dark times within American history but also encouraged students to realize the battle is still ongoing.
“It’s not just a binary issue of black and white,” said Carter, referring to the complicated nature of today’s social injustice.
Documentaries such as “I am not your Negro” allow students to realize that change is in their own hands, and there is still much to be done within our country in terms of recovery.
“When one of us is diminished, all of us are diminished,” said Carter.