Damon Young is an assistant professor of French and film & media at UC Berkeley.
Essex Hemphill, Blackberri, Brian Freeman, Alan Miller,
This exhilarating work breaks free of the homophobia and racism that mute the possibilities for human fulfillment. Marlon Riggs creates a poetic pastiche that has the emotional uplift of gospel music and the sobering impact of reportage. The words of gay poets, personal testimony, rap tableaux, dramatic sequences, and archival footage are woven together with a seductive palette of video effects. Riggs dared to speak the words that would conjure a life into being: “Black men loving black men is the revolutionary act.”
Take This Hammer
Richard O. Moore, United States, 1963
Richard O. Moore and the KQED mobile film unit documented James Baldwin’s visit to San Francisco in 1963. Accompanied by Youth for Service Executive Director Orville Luster, Baldwin meets with community leaders as he seeks to discern “the real situation of Negroes in the city as opposed to the image San Francisco would like to present.” His conversations with the black youths he encounters provide just that, as they describe their frustrations with structural racism manifest in substandard housing, segregation, and lack of opportunity. Baldwin concludes, “There is no moral distance . . . between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.”