American Promise spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival. A co-production of Rada Film Group, ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by CPB. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. A co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium.
To coincide with the POV documentary, Spiegel & Grau has published Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life, by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson with Hilary Beard. Where American Promise raises provocative questions, Promises Kept delivers answers, combining insights Brewster and Stephenson derived from their own experiences with the latest research on closing the black male achievement gap, providing readers with an unprecedented toolkit full of practical strategies from infancy through the teenaged years.
After the broadcast, you can visit the American Promise companion site to read an excerpt from the book Promises Kept, watch interviews with the filmmakers, download graphics to share on social media, guides for bringing the film into the classroom and community, and more.
POV has partnered with the online video journalism studio Storyhunter to commission a series of short web documentaries about the challenges and achievements of young black males in the United States. The web series will premiere on February 3 with shorts Teaching Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket, and A High School Behind Bars.