POV’s “American Promise” Is a Rare and Compelling Exploration of Race, Class and Opportunity in America, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 on Panhandle PBS
Two African-American Boys Enter a Prestigious Private School and Their Families Confront the Opportunities and Frustrations Presented by the Changing Face of Success in America
American Promise premieres Monday, February 3 at 9 p.m. on Panhandle PBS. It is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 12 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who entered a very prestigious—and historically white—private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Dalton School had made a commitment to recruit students of color, and five-year-old best friends Idris Brewster and Oluwaseun (Seun) Summers of Brooklyn were two of the gifted children who were admitted. The boys were placed in a demanding environment that provided new opportunities and challenges, if little reflection of their cultural identities.
Idris’ parents, Joe, a Harvard- and Stanford-trained psychiatrist, and Michèle, a Columbia Law School graduate and filmmaker, decided to film the boys’ progress starting in 1999. They and members of the large Summers family soon found themselves struggling not only with kids’ typical growing pains and the kinds of racial issues one might expect, but also with surprising class, gender and generational gaps. American Promise, which traces the boys’ journey from kindergarten through high school graduation, finds the greatest challenge for the families—and perhaps the country—is to close the black male educational achievement gap, which has been called “the civil rights crusade of the 21st century.”
American Promise was winner of a Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
About Panhandle PBS
Panhandle PBS provides a gathering place for intelligent, trusted community engagement to enlighten, entertain and empower the people of the Texas Panhandle and the world. Licensed to Amarillo College, the station extends the community college philosophy of improving the quality of life for all residents. Panhandle PBS broadcasts on Channel 2.1 in digital High Definition carrying PBS programming and Channel 2.2 in digital Standard Definition carrying Spanish language V-Me programming. For more information, please visit www.panhandlePBS.org.
For photos and more information, visit the POV online pressroom: www.pbs.org/pov/pressroom