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How Far Have Black Americans Come in the Past 50 Years? Thoughts on PBS' 'The March @50' Web Series

by Jai Tiggett
September 17, 2013 3:53 PM
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The March at 50

Though documentaries don't often get the same amount of buzz as other kinds of web content, it's been refreshing to see more docs - and particularly public media - attempt to tackle black issues and culture in the online space. 

Last month, PBS unveiled a full slate of programming and events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Among the offerings, the PBS Black Culture Connection website debuted The March @50, a web series by Shukree Tilghman (More Than a Month), which asks if America has delivered on the original demands of the marchers for jobs and freedom.

Four episodes have been released to date with one more on the way. Thus far there have been discussions on jobs, voting rights, school integration and mass incarceration, all with the underlying question of how much progress black Americans have made in the past 50 years. Would Civil Rights leaders be satisfied with what we've accomplished? Statistically, how do we stack up against our society half a century ago? The answers are interesting, if unsurprising. 

Find the first four parts of the series below and weigh in with your thoughts:

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More: web series, Documentary, Shukree Tilghman

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  • KontentKing | December 6, 2013 2:02 PMReply

    These are pretty succinct. Would love to see more like this.

  • Mizi | September 25, 2013 9:53 AMReply

    I love this site. I always find out about new films I want to see & this time I actually get to see them right in the site. I found the 5th one and watched that as well. I love that even the haters of this one spend multiple paragraphs meditating on the question in this premise. I haven't watched the Google chats I see that went with each one yet, but I will. Looking forward to the extras I saw them mention on twitter. Anyway, thanks for posting.

  • udoug | September 20, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    Useful stuff. Breaks it down in under 10 minutes each. I'm book marking these to pull out next time i get into an argument about systemic racial bias. All the facts on the major issues in one place. Issues of a generation ago are sadly still going to be contemporary a decade from now. This would be a great ongoing series.

  • Granted | September 19, 2013 8:21 AMReply

    Only one more?
    I wish this was a series with longer episodes.
    More like this please!!!

  • Watchedit | September 19, 2013 8:13 AMReply

    These were great. It's a shame they aren't being broadcast. You never see work like this on tv. These leave so much work and research for the viewer and spar a curiosity, which is what the best documentaries do. They give you facts from experts on big issues but in an intimate personal way. I ended up wanting more info and doing some research on my own.

    Can't think of the last time any Doc made me do that.

  • jai | September 19, 2013 3:01 PM

    You see it on PBS. Beyond the web content, there's The March feature doc, which was broadcast, there's Shukree's doc More Than a Month, and others. It's true that these series are rare, but they're around.

  • CareyCarey | September 17, 2013 6:08 PMReply

    GEEEEZZZZ, am I the only one who deplores these "let's analyze black folks" specials? Hell, I absolutely hate all of these so-called special reports on blacks, then and now. What's to be gained by watching Henry Louis Gate's six-part, six-hour series chronicling (supposedly) "the full sweep" of African American history? What am I to learn from Soledad O'Brien's Black In America I, II and I'll be your special kind of fool? And, if I can be brutally honest, I've yet to see any rewards from watching Bill Duke's Dark Girls documentary.

    But if I had to answer the question "How far has Black Americans come in the last 50 years?" I'd have to use the slogan from another cigarette commercial, that is Virgina Slims' call to all women "YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY". Later campaigns have used the slogans, "It's a woman thANG," in the 1990s, and "Find your voice." A few claimed these marketing strategies as attempting to link smoking to women's freedom, emancipation, and empowerment. And, they worked.

    Now those bamboozle stick campaigns are a perfect segue to my belief that we've come a long way while taking two steps back. And those missteps are the steps of the white man. In other words, by following the ways, looks and opinions of white folks, we've managed to royally fu*k ourselves.

    I won't go too deep in this,, but every since we arrive here, many of us have gone out of our way to emulate the ways of white folks. For instance, many of us attack each other over "our hair" texture and skin tone. Some have bought the hype that our natural hair is not "right", not wavy, ain't bright, not like white folk's because it's too kinky and our skin is too dark. So some go out of their way to look just-like-them. Some even try their best to distance themselves from movies, music and a vernacular that would suggest it's a black thang, not a "white" thang. Some have even adapted the words "coonery" and "chitlin circuit" as tools against some forms of black entertainment.

    I can go on and on about some blacks who walk in the white man's foot steps for all the wrong reasons, but we have come a long way, baby. AND, I can't stand TV specials on black folks.

  • CareyCarey | September 19, 2013 10:16 PM

    Tiki, seriously? Check your details. Are you a filmmaker? This site is made for filmmakers...really? Did I say I can't stand information of black history? Really?...the devil's in the details and you're obviously missing the point. But what did you learn as a filmmaker on "these subjects"? And how are you using all this new-found information in your career path and/or personal life, Ms. Ambiguity.

    @ That Dude... Yo, dude, did you read my rant? Okay, so tell me what I missed and what you received from watching them? Yo, was there some new enlightenment that you can use - today?

  • Tiki | September 19, 2013 8:33 AM

    Seriously? You give an opinion on black history bookended by saying you can't stand it when people do that same thing on film? All on a site made for filmmakers and people looking for films on these subjects? Folks should read rants, instead of documentaries? Good luck friend.

  • That Dude | September 18, 2013 10:05 AM

    Did you at leats watch the joints before you went on a rant?

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