Filmmaker Richard Karz spent years compiling footage of African-American luminaries in the fields of education, entertainment and civil rights for his documentary on race relations. Once the project was complete, he decided to unveil the fruits of his labor to the next generation of leaders — 700 junior and senior high school students from Atlanta Public Schools.
Frederick Douglass High School provided the backdrop for a preview of Karz’ documentary, “Legacy: Black & White in America,” which tackles the lasting impact of slavery on modern-day issues such as quality education, poverty and crime. Karz featured Ambassador Andrew Young, Spelman College President Dr. Beverly Tatum and U.S. Rep. John Lewis in the documentary, and they offered commentary on the film after the viewing. 11Alive education reporter Donna Lowry served as moderator for the discussion.
In spite of the country’s progress, Young noted that some issues continue to cast a wide shadow. “This country is dealing with racial discrimination and economic discrimination, and [President Obama] is dealing with both,” he said, challenging students to become part of the solution. “At one point everyone wanted to be a lawyer. That was fine for Thurgood Marshall’s generation, but now we need finance experts because he who holds the gold makes the rules.”
Lewis also encouraged students to make a difference. “When you see something that is wrong, speak up, speak out, demonstrate, protest, agitate,” he said, noting that today is the 50th anniversary of his arrest as part of a sit-in protest for civil rights. “We did our research before planning protests, but we didn’t have fax machines, the Internet or cell phones. We used what we had, and you are much more prepared than we were in the 1960s.”