The New Black

The New Black

  • BY Yoruba Richen | IN LGBTQ
    Premiered June 15, 2014

About the Film

The New Black tells the story of how the African American community is debating the marriage equality movement and the fight over LGBT rights. The film documents activists, families, and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar — the black church — while exploring ways this phenomenon may have been exploited by political conservatives. MORE

Yoruba Richen’s film takes us from New York to California to Maryland to document the multiple players in this debate, including gay gospel singer Tonex (who now goes by the stage name B.Slade), who shocks the host of Word Network’s “Lexi Show” as he describes his attraction to men.

The film also features Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), as well as both a number of black ministers who are challenging homophobia in the black church, and some of the leading anti-gay black ministers as they fight efforts to advance gay rights, working to pass a ballot initiative in Maryland that would reverse the recently won right for gay couples to marry. Maryland has a 30% African-American population and both sides vie to win the black vote in the battle over the Question 6 ballot initiative.

The black community is having a wrenching conversation about homophobia as the gay rights debate is unfolding on the political stage and in the courts. But as the film shows, including with two young campaigners who find their feet in both worlds, there are many stories of those engaging from within. While the debate around gay rights has deepened some divides within the black community, it has also opened a space for new conversations about overcoming oppression for everyone.

The Filmmaker

Yoruba Richen, Director/Producer

Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker who has directed and produced films in the U.S. and abroad including Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. The New Black is her most recent film and has won Audience Awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest, and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. The film also won Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival and was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award. Richen’s previous film Promised Land received a Diverse Voices co-production fund award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and was broadcast on PBS’s POV in 2010. In 2007, Richen won a Fulbright Award in filmmaking and traveled to Brazil, where she began production on Sisters of the Good Death, a documentary about the oldest African women's association in the Americas and the annual festival they hold celebrating the end of slavery. Richen has also been an associate producer for the investigative unit of ABC News as well as a producer for the independent news program Democracy Now. Richen won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance producer's fellow. In 2014, she was a featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow. Richen is director of the documentary program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.


Film Credits

Directed and Written by
Yoruba Richen

Ali Muney
Erin Casper

Yoruba Richen
Yvonne Welbon

Angela Tucker

Nadia Hallgren
Garland McLaurin

Associate Producers
Veena Rao
Samantha Stark
Kali Holloway

Kathryn Bostic

Music Supervisor
Korie Enyard

Additional Camera
Steve Bognar
Michelle Crenshaw
Jon Goff
Dan Hunt
Afshin Javadi
John Mans
Yuki Noguchi
Liz Rubin
Marshall Tyler
Errol Webber

Additional Editor
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

Assistant Editors
Jesse Dorfman
Kelly Kendrick
John Kersten

Story Editor
Christopher Seward

Editorial Consultants
Geeta Gandbhir
Sam Pollard

Judith Casselberry

Shwandra L. Jones
William Kaplan
John Monte
Bernie Ozol
Cody Peterson
Juan Rocha
Tony Stewart
Edward Thacker

Assistant Camera
Nick Novotny

Field Producer
Moira Griffin

Sound Design and Mix
Margaret Crimmins
Greg Smith
Kevin Wilson

Audio Post Facility
Dog Bark
Prime Focus

On-line Editor
Eugene Lehnert

Color Correction
Eric Alvarado

Post Production Facility
Prime Focus

Music Consultant
Doug Bernheim

Trailer Editors
Dara Kell
Chris White

Pamela Aguilar

Production Assistants
James Balls
Eliot Caroom
Will Cotton
Mallory Hemerlein
Suyeon Kim
Amy Stretten
David Williams

Fernando Ramirez
Karen Shatzin

Kelley A. Trotter

Still Photography
Jen Lemen

Branding and Graphic Design
Roni Lagin & Co.

Lead Animator
David Cohen

Assistant to the Director
Christian Baer
Emma Francis

Archival Footage and Photographs Courtesy of
ABC News
Black Entertainment Television LLC
CBN News
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Church & State
Cogic Media
Corbis Images
DNAInfo New York
Calvin Fleming
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Getty Images
The Huffington Post
KNBC Los Angeles
The Kojo Nnamdi Show, WYPR
The Lexi Show
Los Angeles Times
Magnum Photos
Marylanders for Marriage Equality
Metro Weekly
NBC Universal Archives
The New York Times
The NoH8 Campaign
Opposing Views
People For The American Way
Phil Donahue Show Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC
Protect Marriage
Saddleback Church
Photographs and Prints Division, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Jessie Terwilliger
The Village Voice
Washington Post
WBAL-TV Baltimore
WJZ-TV Baltimore
WMAR-TV Baltimore

“Black Sheep”
Song performed by B Slade
Written and Produced by A. Williams courtesy of Nureau Ink Music
L. Burroughs courtesy of Code Blaque Music
In affiliation with SESAC

“Make Me Over”
Song performed by Tonex
Written and produced by A. Williams
Published by T.Boy'z Tip Music
In affiliation with ASCAP

Song performed by B Slade
Written and produced by A. Williams
Published by Nureau Ink Music in affiliation with SESAC and D. Peevey courtesy of 35th Regiment Music
in association with ASCAP

Song performed by B Slade
Written and produced by A.Williams, C.Stepney, and R. Rudolph
Published by Nureau Ink Music in affiliation with SESAC
Ramsel Publishing
In affiliation with BMI

“I Can’t Write Left Handed”
Song performed by Bill Withers
Written by Jackson, Raymond McKinley and Bill Withers
In affiliation with ASCAP

“This Land Is Your Land”
Song performed by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
Published by Ludlow Music Inc
In affiliation with BMI

“It Ain’t Necessarily So”
Song performed by Jamie Cullum
Words and Music by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Published by George Gershwin Music, Gershwin Publishing Corp, Ira Gershwin Music, and WB Music Corp
In affiliation with ASCAP

“Interlude 4”
Song performed by L’Renee
Words and Music by L.Hollins, RenCen, and J-Active
RenCen CoolBeanz courtesy of Bling University
Jason Lugo courtesy of Harmoni
L. Hollins courtesy of L'Renee Musique Inc.
In affiliation with ASCAP

"Caught In A Maze"
Written by Steve “Silk” Hurley
Published by Silktone Songs, Inc
Produced, composed and arranged by Steve “Silk” Hurley for S&S Chicago
In affiliation with ASCAP

Macky Alston
Joslyn Barnes
Michael J. Brewer
Linda Goode Bryant
MarQuis Fair
Macarthur Flornouy
Mable Haddock
Christina Hanhardt
Candy Holmes
Jamila Holt
Jill Krauss
Emily Kunstler
Josh Levin
Kimberley McLeod
Kevin Nix
Donna Payne
Aishah Rahman
Jenny Raskin
Cathy Renna
Lacey Schwartz
Bennett Singer
Cynthia Stancil
Kevin Waller
Pastor Dennis Wiley
Pastor Christine Wiley
Charles Young

Executive Producer for National Black Programming Consortium
Jacquie Jones

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

The Ford Foundation
The Arcus Foundation
The Sundance Documentary Fund
Tribeca Institute
New York State Council on the Arts
Chicken & Egg Pictures
The Jerome Foundation
Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund
The Gill Foundation
Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media
Hartley Film Foundation
The Robert Giard Foundation
Catherine Gund
Ellen M. Violett and Mary P.R. Thomas Foundation
City University of New York - Diversity Projects Development Fund of the University Affirmative Action Committee

The New Black is a co-production of Promised Land Film, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS),
in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC)
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The New Black is produced by Promised Land Film, Inc. who is solely responsible for its content.

© 2013 Promised Land Film, Inc. All rights reserved.

Has your own state dealt with a similar divide within communities over gay marriage? If you're part of an African American household, how has the topic of gay rights been handled within your family? Do you see a parallel between African American civil rights movement and LGBT rights struggles?


  • AFI Docs
    Audience Award
  • Frameline 37
    Audience Award
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Has your own state dealt with a similar divide within communities over gay marriage? If you're part of an African American household, how has the topic of gay rights been handled within your family? Do you see a parallel between African American civil rights movement and LGBT rights struggles?