Before asking Who We Are… let’s ask, ‘who is he?’
“He” being – Jeffery Robinson, and creator of the documentary Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism, along with Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler.
The recently retired ACLU deputy legal director, presents America’s history of anti-Black racism, much of which has come to be misunderstood. The film is eye-opening, thought-provoking and effectively invites all to better understand the history of racism in America. Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism is a groundbreaking talk on the history of U.S. anti-Black racism and is interwoven with archival footage, interviews, and Robinson’s story.
Addressing the Truth, of Who We Are
Jeffery Robinson had one of the best educations in America. He went to Marquette University and Harvard Law School and has been a trial lawyer for over 40 years. In 2011, Robinson began raising his then 13-year-old nephew and, as a Black man raising a Black son, struggled with what to tell his son about racism in America. Robinson was 11 years old when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Robinson’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He marched with his father and brother in one of the Memphis Sanitation Worker strikes. Robinson also attended a court hearing for some of those arrested for marching and that experience, at 11 years old, is why he ultimately became a criminal defense lawyer. Before King’s murder, Robinson believed the country had reached a “tipping point,” and true racial equality was within reach. When King was killed, it felt to Robinson like the movement died with him. How, he wondered, did we get here?
After many years as a practicing lawyer, Robinson started looking at our Nation’s history and was shocked by how deeply encoded white supremacy and the oppression of Black Americans is in that history. For the past 10 years, in community centers, concert halls, houses of worship, and conference rooms across America, Robinson has been sharing what he learned. He has become a sought-after speaker, and his presentation has become legendary. On Juneteenth (June 19) 2018, Robinson brought his presentation to the New York stage, performing before a packed house at the historic Town Hall theater on Broadway.
In Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, Robinson faces his largest audience, asking all of us to examine who we are, where we come from, and who we want to be. Anchored by Robinson’s Town Hall performance, the film interweaves historical and present-day archival footage, Robinson’s personal story, and vérité and interview footage capturing Robinson’s meetings with Black change-makers and eyewitnesses to history. From a hanging tree in Charleston, South Carolina, to a walking tour of the origins of slavery in colonial New York, to the site of a 1947 lynching in rural Alabama, the film brings history to life, exploring the enduring legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it.
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is available in theaters in New York and Los Angeles, you can find tickets and the release schedule, here.