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Big Brothers Big Sisters Director Serves on Panel for National Documentary: American Promise

Director of African American Engagement, Angela Williams

American Promise, from PBS

Angela Williams, Dir. of African American Engagement of Big Brothers Big Sisters, was invited to serve as a panelist for a national Tweet-up and chat-up discussion about the groundbreaking and award winning online documentary, American Promise earlier this month. Williams joined filmmakers and 80 other experts, including one of the boys, Idris, who is featured in the film. The discussion was scheduled to highlight Black Male Achievement Week.

“It is an honor to be a member of this national panel looking at ways to close the black male achievement gap,” said Williams. “Big Brothers Big Sisters serves 200,000 children across the country, and more than 25 percent of the children waiting for a Big are African American boys.”

American Promise is a documentary in which 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, for more than 13 years. The two boys make their way through Dalton, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. This documentary shows the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation and the complicated and tough truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity

Williams and the other panelists watched the film together virtually and chatted online, "It really felt like we were in the movie theatre together and the conversation was fantastic. Audience participation was infectious and stimulating.  The documentary draws attention to not only the black male achievement gap, and some of the circumstances that cause it, but the producers help the viewer understand the varied roles parents, mentors, and community members can play in changing the narrative for African American boys. Exceptional film!"

Where are the boys today? Seun is a college sophomore at York College in Queens, NY and is majoring in graphic design. Idris is a sophomore at Occidental College, and is declaring his major this semester in cognitive science. The documentary won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and is available to watch online through March 6 at http://www.pbs.org/pov/americanpromise/.

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