WXXI Contact: Kristin Tutino, WXXI, (585) 258-0253

For Immediate Release

WXXI HOSTS A FREE SCREENING OF AMERICAN PROMISE, A FILM THAT EXAMS THE LINK BETWEEN RACE AND EDUCATION, AT THE LITTLE THEATRE FEBRUARY 12 AT 6:30 PM
Panel Discussion Led by WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer to Follow

(Rochester, NY) February 4, 2014 – WXXI will host a free screening of American Promise, a film that tells the story of two African-American boys who enter a prestigious private school and are confronted with opportunities and frustrations. The award-winning documentary screens on Wednesday, February 12 from 6:30-9pm at the Little Theatre (240 East Avenue) in Theatre 1 and will be followed by a panel discussion.

WXXI News' Education Reporter Hélène Biandudi Hofer will lead the post-film discussion with panelists including: Donna Harris, PhD, Assistant Professor at The University of Rochester Warner School in Educational Leadership; and Theresa J. Woodson, Director of the Urban-Suburban Program at Monroe #1 BOCES. The discussion will focus on the unique issues and challenges African-American boys face in education and solutions to help improve the academic outcomes.

American Promise is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 13 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.”

This screening and talk back are part of WXXI's American Graduate initiative, and is made possible by a grant from American Documentary | POV, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This film is also part of the African American Educational Awareness Film Series – local partner credits are: Pothos Productions, Freedom Trail Commission, WHTK-1280 AM What’s Goin on with Brown & Allen, The Community Place of Greater Rochester and Threshold CAPP.

To learn more about this film, and WXXI’s American Graduate, visit: wxxi.org/grad.

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WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. The formal affiliation between WXXI and the Little Theatre, established in December 2011, enables the two organizations to work more efficiently by pooling resources and strengths in a number of areas including back-office operation and improved fundraising capabilities.  Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.

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